Day two of huddling up with this icy stuff. I wasn’t really expecting to be following up so swiftly, but weather is weather, and with the year as slow as it’s been so far, I’m certainly not complaining! This time my letters took on a slightly different form, coming off those nice flat, fragmented planes I chanced upon yesterday.

I though a ’round’ font might complement these, and ended up going with a traditional dot matrix face, subjecting it to various textures and random positioning. I also tried to shake the backgrounds up a little for each character; they’re all different but the dots manage to keep them in union, I think.

Just for a laugh, here are some earlier renders:

Fun fun. It has felt good to be making stuff and buzzing again. Let’s see if it lasts this time around!



I’m sure everyone knows what the weather is like and you certainly won’t need me to repeat every weatherperson on TV. But I shall. It’s four degrees below freezing, the wind is howling. The night sky is lit up with that otherworldly orange as there’s so much snow. It must be the heaviest we’ve had here in five years, perhaps more, and it’s clearly not over yet. I expect kids are going to be off school for a while – happy times for them, perhaps not so much for slightly bigger commuters. I have to admit, when we first got the stuff, I did squeal a little. That first crunch of the snow benath my foot, and I’m restored to happy-four year old, itching to lob a snowball at someone.

And yet, I found myself indoors and playing on the computer. No real surprise there, I hear you all tut back at me. I started fiddling with textures with no hard aim, but soon began toying with transparency, looking for glass, and then it hit me.

Ice Ice Baby.

Here are the fruits of my experimentation in trying to create something from scratch that resembles icicles, ice blocks or something in between. It’s a bit of a mixed bag. There are probably hundreds of tutorials on the subject which would result in something far better, but I thought it would be interesting practise, and well, I’ve always been difficult.

Cones masqueraded as icicles to begin with, forming a crown for some cool ice prince. It might be a few years before I’m skilled enough to sculpt him.


Continuing to experiment, I just began placing the texture on flat surfaces but using different wrap procedures and alpha patterns. I haven’t really used flat wrap before, but it seemed to give a really nice stretched aesthetic:




The letters were a much quicker job than the texture itself; with so many options in there, it’s easy to plunge into a ‘kid in candy store’ situation and completely forget what you’re trying to achieve. In aiming for a more spontaneous result, they were one-and-done jobs with splines, nothing too methodical. I actually rather like how the texture has come out with inverted colour; a crumbly, lunar landscape to it. Perhaps it could be used for something totally different.

It’s been a while since I’ve got this carried away with anything creative, so thank goodness for the Beast From the East, I guess. I cannot let this post pass without mentioning the glorious Ice Cap Zone from Sonic 3 – truly, it was love at first sight for me. Not the most challenging part of the game, but visually stunning. Even the enemies, little robot penguins, are adorable. And just when you’ve thought you’d seen it all, you happen across someone singing the music a-capella. Marvellous!

ashtree-3aNow, here’s a horror story for Valentine’s Day: I’ve recently had a bit of a rift with my beloved. Yes, I’m talking about Photoshop. After just a few minutes of use, my brush strokes would begin stuttering on contact, not responding to what I was actually drawing; if I drew a curve in the two or three seconds it took to wake up, I’d get just a straight line from point A to B. Not the most patient at the best of times, having to wait seconds to get a responsive brush quickly became a no-no for me, and, with no settings adjustments seeming to make a difference, I had to reinstall the software. Fingers crossed, it does seem to be restored to working order, now, thank goodness!

Similarly restored is our subject, Ash Tree Farm Drainage Mill, though the reference for this drawing would surely have been back in its working days of the early-to-mid twentieth century. The dreadful storms of January 1953 blew the mill’s sails off, and from then it would lie derelict until about 2007, when a new cap and sails were fitted. Now, it’s a pretty sight just off the busy A47, linking Yarmouth to Acle – it actually sits in a region between the two known as Nowhere – and then onto Norwich. Having done that route so often, I’ve long thought of the mill as the first landmark en route to the city, or equally a sign that we’re almost home.

I can’t claim that the aforementioned gremlins were obstructing any creative cavalcade; it has, so far, been a very slow year on that front. That said, the reinstall at least gave me an excuse to sit down and make something, and that’s no bad thing even if I did perhaps take a predictable route. When life gives you wind, make windmills, as they say.

WWFbig-repoman6And now for something a little different – the same, but different. Wanting to wrest a bit more character out of a portrait, I began cutting up references in Photoshop, enlarging and warping certain bits and bobs to try and guide me. With that focus, I turned back to the stars of the wrestling ring, and Repo Man, aka Barry Darsow aka Demolition Smash. The epitome of early nineties WWF silliness, you couldn’t ask for a better guinea pig!

First spotted skulking around the ring in autumn 1991, Repo Man, replete with domino mask and long coat, would predominantly play out in a series of vignettes, in which he repossessed or outright stole items from members of the public. On one shocking occasion, he even stole the psychedelic hat of “Macho Man” Randy Savage, something I’m sure fans would never forget. His trusty tow rope came in handy not just for his occupation but for in-ring action, too, as he’d tie up his defeated foes and even repossess them. Such antics incurred the ire of big men like British Bulldog and Crush, who seemed to power over Repo Man with ease in their respective feuds. Repo very quickly became a jobber, but a hilarious one, and that’s all that matters.

Curiously, it was intended for the character to start doing good deeds and become a heroic role model, but when the plans were shelved, Darsow quit in 1993. Surely for the best, as the character just screams dastardly comic book villain, and it’s probably better remembered for being exclusively that.

This is the first piece I’ve completed in quite a while – it hasn’t been an especially productive start to the year. But this was fun and, as a process, felt fresh – maybe more on this vein to come. I just think perhaps the heads need to get bigger!

cesaro-04A very happy new year to all! I hope it has started as you mean it to continue, and long may you continue to visit and make this little community a fun one.

I thought a suitably joyous way to kick off proceedings in 2018 – and my 250th post, as it happens – would be to accept a blog award, something I haven’t done for some time. Just before Christmas, Dernhelm kindly nominated me for the Unique Blogger Award. If you want some awesome illustrations, a visit is heartily recommended!

My accompanying portrait doesn’t really have anything to do with the award, but after such an honour I thought I’d treat myself. The charming Cesaro, formerly known as Very Mysterious Ice Cream – which might be the best ring name ever – certainly qualifies on that score. He’s unique in his own right, for not only for is he the first Swiss wrestler to come to prominence in WWE, but he’s surely the only grappler with a vlog all about coffee – or, at least, he used to. Little appears to remain these days, but it looks like it was hilarious.

I now have to pick up to thirteen bloggers upon which to bestow this very same honour. It’s always so difficult! Obviously there are hundreds of candidates for this – I’d say all the blogs I visit are unique. In trying to be fair, I did generally go for people I haven’t shared on previous awards, so please forgive me if your blog shouldn’t appear.

Drum roll, please… your nominees are:

And the winner is …

Everyone! Yay!

Now, we come to the part of the evening where, sozzled though we may be, we have to soldier on and, for a laugh, answer the questions that Dernhelm has left for me. Lord knows I love interviews!


Panic! And then go for a walk.

Panic! I fear we’ve been over this in previous award ceremonies. I struggle to read very often, and, at best, stick to verse. ‘Less is more’, and all that carry on. Most recently I picked up an anthology of War poetry, but such a context proved – perhaps unsurprisingly – to be a bit heavy, and I haven’t got very far. I should probably stick to nonsense.

As per the rules of this award, I have to now ask all nominees three questions of my own. I will keep mine pretty similar to those above, and because I’m feeling a bit dull, I’ll keep it strictly business:

  • Which one word do you think best describes your blog?
  • Is there a post you’re particularly proud of and would like to reshare?
  • Have you any grand goals for your blog/practice this year?

And, of course, the spirit of the award means nominees should also go ahead and nominate thirteen others, ask questions of their own etc. etc. As usual, there is no obligation to do that, or anything at all because I have said so. Go your own way! But indeed, my thanks once more to Dernhelm, congratulations to all nominees, and big thanks to all for your patience! See you at the after-party, which I was told is down there somewhere…

N64-compilation2Post-Christmas Day and pre-new year, I often find myself revelling in old games – even more than usual. This time, WWF No Mercy, the last in an illustrious series of wrestling games made by AKI and THQ for the N64 between 1996 and 2000.

I haven’t played a new wrestling game in over a decade, so I’m not really in a place to judge them against today’s efforts, but I do know that I will still happily play No Mercy and, even back then, I found myself tiring of the successors and returning to it; I can totally understand why many still think it the best wrestling game ever made.


Its strengths were abundant. There were storylines for every championship belt which ran on a clever branching path system, with wins and losses giving you different outcomes – some of these I’ve still yet to see after fifteen years, which speaks of its depth. Money earnt in this mode could be used to purchase extra wrestlers, arenas and other goodies. The game engine was simple to grasp, but very difficult to master, and rewarded strategy; even on easier difficulties, if you were caught being complacent or slow-witted, the computer opponent would capitalise and come at you with all they had, taking you to twenty or thirty minute wars. I remember finding this infuriating as a youngster, but now it just strikes me as perfectly aware of wrestling and the absurd drama that it is. It shouldn’t be a fair fight, and there should be a real sense of reward when you emerge the victor.

I also appreciated the custom creation suite, and how you could not only create your own superstars but edit the appearance of the in-game roster – this was something that wasn’t available in any other game at the time. It meant you could adjust their look in line with their real-life character. With emulation as it is, though, you can now take this a little bit further. Texture modding allows you to put pieces into the game’s graphics that weren’t there previously, meaning that you can effectively create textures for anybody. Having previously attempted a few this with the game’s predecessor, WrestleMania 2000 – of whom, Rick Rude, Andre and 1991 Undertaker stand at the head of this post – I thought I’d have a go with No Mercy now. I found it quite tricky mapping and aligning the textures correctly, since they are, of course, wrapped around the body and distorted accordingly, but I think I’ve finally started to get the hang of it.

Here are just a couple, firstly for “The Model” Rick Martel:


And next up, stand back, there’s a Hurricane comin’ through!


Needless to say, there are people who have taken this much, much further than just modding a few faces and outfits. Many have produced entire rosters of superstars, along with the according arenas and sound effects to transform the very much 2000 No Mercy into something quite different – be it the WWF of the eighties, WCW or a pack of movie superheroes and villains. I’m sure people will be playing with this for as long as the game endures.

The aforementioned WWF eighties mod did grab my attention – the HD graphics lifting the visuals, and the passion of its creator is evident – it’s great fun to play!

wrestlefest-2While we’re talking about wrestling and the classic era: I had a go at some bonus superstars for WrestleFest, too – two Stings and a Bret Hart. As fun as the N64 frolicking was, it was much more relaxing to sit and put some pixels together!

snowglobe-snowmanWell, when the weather just doesn’t want to play ball insofar as white stuff, what else can you do but pick up a miniature world, shake it vigorously, and give them the gift of a blizzard? I don’t actually recall many of the things in our decorations box, though I do vividly remember one year receiving one as a present; predictably, it was a windmill, covered in pastel colours, battery-powered and sharing the space with what appeared to be polystyrene balls. Its base was inscribed with the words, “Marry Christmas”. I enjoyed it, despite the demands!

Anyway, here are a few I’ve tentatively put together; with time short, they’re not quite as extravagantly populated or decorative as I originally planned – not even a windmill found its way inside! – but ultimately I think simplicity works in their favour. Glass is always a pain (ha ha… except it’s not a pane) for me, but this actually turned out relatively well. You can see through it.

The snowman, who seems to have found his way from Mill Cottage to inside that particular globe, was sourced from here.

snowglobe-treeAnd, a bonus for a laugh… will you start the snow, please! It’s time to go tooooo the Crystal Snowme! If I’d seen one of these in the shops, I’d have pestered and pestered my mother to buy one – just as I would today. Someone, do a better job and make it happen.

snowglobe-crysIt looks like things are going to be rather busy – to say the least – as we count down to the big day, so I’m not sure if there will be any real time to make stuff until afterwards. In that case, I am going to take this opportunity to say that, if you are celebrating this holiday season, I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful time of it. Merry Christmas!