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Another year, another Christmas, and another mad rush trying to put a card together. I probably should take care of them in July or something, but you know how it is… I’d miss the mad rush! Have fun making some sense of that. Of course, as artists and creators yourselves, you’ll know that sometimes a mad rush can lead to better results. I’ll let you be the judge in this instance. I rather like the colours at least; it rather makes me think of Quality Street wrappers and the “homemade 3D glasses” effect. The cool kids will know what I’m talking about.

I must admit to not feeling overly festive this year, but then, I feel like I’ve said that a lot in recent years. Perhaps it’s because these are trying times, or perhaps I’m turning into a grumpy old sod. I’m kidding, of course. I may be a grumpy sod, but it’s perfectly okay to not really be feeling it of a given year. The main event has yet to come and could change everything, and even if it doesn’t, we’ll be here again before you know it.

Of course, my malaise has not put me off Christmas music, which infiltrated my listening at the start of the month in its usual effort to inject some festivity, but is just a case of enjoying some good, warm music regardless. It had been quite a few years since I heard this classic – thank you, Spotify. Enjoy, and best wishes, from me to you, for the holiday season and beyond.

Let us take a trip back to 2017, the days when I used to post… well, not actually that regularly… with a couple of random windmill drawings from those days that weren’t quite good enough to meet my exacting standards. Apparently they are now, five-and-a-half years later. Actually, they might have ended up on my short-lived Instagram, so if you were one of the dozen or so who followed me there, you may recognise them. But you probably weren’t and don’t.

I’ve photoshopped them beyond all recognition today; lots of big, textured brushes and coloured overlays to try and make them in some way worthy, and produce something similar to my pylon studies from earlier this year. In the landscape piece, layering a negative replica slightly offset appeared to create something reminiscent of VHS artifact, so that was a rather interesting development, even if I wasn’t necessarily going for anything like it.

Indeed, the whole exercise consisted of throwing stuff around and seeing what sticks to these poor old works, but at least we got some nice colours in the end.

Just a selection of oldies and (some not so) goodies from the pixel art archive here. It’s a bit of a weird selection of treats, kind of like raiding your grandparents’ pantry or sweet jar. Speaking from experience of that situation, I do have some advice: in the midst of your temptation, always ensure that those treats aren’t fifteen years out of date.

Some of these studies might be a bit past their best, as they’re a mixture dating back to 2019. Others were made just now, so that I wasn’t just posting a big fried egg for you. Hopefully it’s not too hard to tell which are which.

Oh, for the days of heading into Woolworths (RIP) and spending ages agonising over the pick ‘n’ mix selection!

Here we have the legendary Bam Bam Bigelow in the style of Capcom’s equally legendary Street Fighter II. What with this and WrestleFest, there certainly was a lot of stunning pixel art floating around in the arcades in 1991.

Basically, I drew Bigelow directly alongside the Zangief model, trying to copy one of his poses and deviating from there. This mostly entailed bulking him up; he was a big chap, but also incredibly agile with it. That’s what made him so impressive to watch.

Of course, the magic of pallette swapping allows me to come up with alternate colour schemes for multiplayer mayhem, should several players wish to be Mr. Bigelow – and who could blame them? He bore the flames for much of his career, so it was actually quite easy to mimic some of his other outfits.

I do think the facial likeness could be better, but it got to the point where I felt like I was going backwards with that. Who knew it would be harder to get a face right in pixel art? That said, I’m happy to have finally got this done as it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a week or two, only I kept hitting a wall with it.

It’d be great to see him in RetroMania someday.

Using a rather different pallette to recent adventures, here we have twin electricity pylons which stand near to the village of Haddiscoe. Due to their position next to a waterway (called the New Cut) they are rather tall – exactly how tall I’m not sure; I haven’t climbed them, and won’t be doing so any time soon. Of course, on the Norfolk skyline such a construction is visible for many miles around, so these have never really been far from my eye, but I kind of like pylons and their weird, ominous presence, so this isn’t an issue for me.

That personality was the focus of these developments. The sketch came from wandering around the area in Google Street View, just out of curiosity really, after a local news report of some weather damage to the railway embankment there. There’s just something about the way these pylons have stood so tall in the remoteness for so long, effortlessly looming over the space.

Though the sketch from Street View goes some way to depicting the atmosphere, I feel these more graphic pieces better capture their “power”.

Following on from the snowy conifers, we have a rather different take on the snappy winter weather, and a subject making its welcome return. Rejoice, the first windmill in over a year! And even that one was just an animation of a model made in 2017. The last one before that was a drawing back in March 2020.

Well, I must confess this isn’t entirely new, either. In fact, it’s a repurposing of several elements. It’s my Post Mill model from way back in 2016 (which was very much inspired by Stanton Mill in Suffolk) decked out with new sails and a coat of paint. I then added some grids, randomly distributing squares and rectangles which use textures I created years ago but still really enjoy playing with. While I have applied them to the mill model, using the favoured frontal projection, I really like creating bumpy, displaced 3D textures and sending them to a two-dimensional plane. That might sound counter-productive or plain silly, but the results are quite exciting to me. I’m a sucker for that harsh, icy aesthetic, and this method creates it in such a way that I probably couldn’t draw or paint, even if I tried. It’s possible that the end result is a little heavy-handed with the squares, but I do enjoy the frosty vibe. It’s not often I “frame” work, either, but I felt like it added a little something in this instance.

How nice to spin a few old bits and bobs into something new.

Here’s a curious little programme about windmills from more than half a century ago:

On an unseasonably warm winter afternoon, here’s a quick sketch of some snow-capped conifers. I would say it’s like a half-finished Christmas card, but that would be an obscene suggestion to make in January so I shan’t do it. There’s really not much more to say in terms of rationale, but I will say that trees are good. I like trees. Hopefully, you’ll appreciate this little wintry blast. I’m off to change into shorts and T-shirt.

Whilst looking through some old school exercise books recently, I found a set of haikus about the seasons. Here’s what I came up with for winter:

Winter time, snow, ice
Evergreen trees standing strong
High above the rest

That’s better than I could do now.

Brrr! Or not so brrr to be accurate, as it’s relatively mild here, the thick fog not really creating much of a marshmallow world or winter wonderland. There’s certainly not much of a chill placed in my heart; indeed, there’s something special about these days as we count down to the main event. A cosiness sets in at some indeterminate point. Possibly when all the shopping is done.

As the time to put together a Christmas card drew ever closer, I kept telling myself that, this time, I was going to try something more traditional; slower. A nice landscape drawing, maybe, or an intricate voxel model. Well, that turned out didn’t it? It’s always the way. There must be an angel, quite a mischievous one, playing tricks on me, but far from being a thorn in my side, they guided me to something different. I enjoyed it, and I guess that’s all that matters.

A peaceful, safe and happy holiday season to you all. Fill the bowl, roll out the barrel, and sweet dreams of your perfect winter wonderland.

The best tattoo there was…

and the best tattoo there ever will be.

Well well, here’s something I never expected to happen. A few weeks ago, I was asked if a couple of my custom WrestleFest character designs could potentially be used for a tattoo – Bret and Owen Hart, to be precise. Of course, I said yes; it’s beyond flattering that somebody wanted my art to be quite literally a part of them.

And sure enough, earlier today I received this:

How cool is that!? My thanks to Ajay for being mad enough to want this and for going through with it. I still can’t quite believe it!

Working on another Pixel Dailies prompt, “computer icons”, again with a 32×32 pixel restriction, I ended up going back to the days of Windows 95 and its incredibly familiar (at least for those of a certain age) teal desktop.

What if contemporaneous TV shows were available to stream? One-off streams had already been done by this point, but can’t you just imagine the quality of an on-demand catch-up service in 1995, and on a dial-up connection? As nightmarish as it would inevitably have been, some would doubtless be waxing nostalgic about it today! But let’s suspend our disbelief and imagine that technology allowed it at a passable standard…

I had a bit of a think of what shows I remember from that time; I was only three years old when Windows 95 was released, so, besides a couple of personal favourites, I’ve gone with shows that I remember my parents watching. Brookside and Coronation Street narrowly missed out. The icons don’t look too out of place, so I’m counting this as a win.