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Remember those art lessons in first school where you’d be given sheets of tissue paper to cut out flower shapes, and have to stick them to sugar paper using those glue spreaders? Wasn’t it always a mess, with the tissue paper getting all crumpled if not outright ripped? Maybe that was just me? Should I stop with the questions already? What is this?

Well anyway, this geometric exercise was reminiscent of those days, just without the heady whiff of PVA. I wanted to do something with flowers and spring again, but quite where or why the triangle fetish emerged I have no idea. Still, I’m always willing to give new things a go and what we have here is me just drawing triangles in rather a carefree manner (for me at least) to give some semblance of a flowerhead.

Of course, then came the onslaught of Photoshop effects! Similar to my previous spring exploration, mostly dropping old pieces or textures over and under the drawings. Some flower power vibes coming through here, especially with the pink.

When I got to a rose – or at least that’s what I’m thinking it is – and found I was thinking about composition too much, I decided it was time to call it a day. But it was interesting. The layered outlines below are something, though. I think this could be the way to go in future.

Triangles are fun. Not as good as hexagons, but still rather neat.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you – I said there would be more of this carry-on to come, and here we are. I didn’t quite expect it to come this quickly, but there will be no complaints about that. This little spike in productivity is very welcome.

First, we have these concoctions above, trying to take my previous post onward and into a 3D space. They aren’t really up to much at the moment but who knows, with someone clever texturing and arranging lighting they might have something going for them. As it is, the sphere arrangement just reminds me of the Chupa Chups display in sweet shops – temptation aside, that’s not really a bad thing.

On that mention of texturing, here are a couple of late additions; it’s the same basic principle, only with rounded branches and a snazzy steel finish:

I broke that down a little more with the next set, removing the branches and coming to floating shapes housing the tree’s image; in this case, said image comes from a post I made way back in 2017.

Finally, introducing the old favourite, the glitch effect; this time done with layers and layers of lines, each with different colours:

geometric-trees-B005geometric-trees-B006The first actually seems to chime quite nicely with the original and its setting. The yellow is perhaps a little loud, but who’s worrying about that? I’m pretty good at messing things up in general, so it’s rather surprising it’s taken me this long to embrace the glitch effect in my work. It’s fun.

pixeltree-3dI’ve developed a bit of a thing for this reductive/De Stijl/glitch/whatever I’m calling it today style I’ve been exploring lately, so set about doing some more, moving the focus from line and more toward shape – topiary, if you will – just throwing blocks and circles together, basically, and trying not to balls it up in the process.

I did give myself some rule and order in that I restricted myself to circles, triangles and oblongs, each of which having three proportionally sized ‘heads’. I then attacked them with texture brushes. The copses above were rather thrown together, trying to not to overthink composition. The same went for an attempt at one of my favourite trees, the weeping willow:

pixeltree-3I would say these have been the most exciting experiments of the year, but, given my rate of posting that isn’t really saying much. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a while, anyway, and I’m sure there will be more.

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Trees! Trees! Teresa Green! Or not as the case may be, sorry Tess. The above was something of a detour from my standard pixel practice; I tried to go wild with nature by creating a spooky tree with blocks of pixels, which I’d previously put together using a selection of shades. It seemed like a clever idea at the time. As you can see, it didn’t go that well, so that was something of a “one and done” exercise.

I started thinking back to old tree pieces I’d done and furthermore to artists who’d made interesting interpretations of them. Of course I found my way back to Piet Mondrian, my old GCSE Art bae. Always a joy. I went a step further with the reduction, however, sticking to my favoured black-and-white style to begin with.

pixeltree-2bThese were such fun, actually, and I like them all the more for their imperfections. I did attempt some later on using sharp lines, but they didn’t appeal nearly so much.

Branching back to my glitch stuff a couple of months back, I felt it was now time for Photoshop to take over. I drew a very rough impression of some leaves over the grid, and then pixellated it, resulting in a glitchy mess. Cue play, and we ended up with these intreeguing puppies:

And then I recoloured one to reflect autumn. Tis the season, after all, close bosom-friend of the maturing sun.

pixeltree-2fThe main take-aways from this post are: wasn’t Mondrian a legend, and; isn’t Photoshop also a legend? These are also uber-abstract for Mr. Literal over here, too, so I’m taking this as a victree one way or another.

roadwarriors-01What a match-up this is!

It’s funny the things you happen across online. I’ve been editing audio with Audacity for many years, but never thought I’d be using it to make visual art. Turns out you can! If you’re able to convert images to Raw format, then you can load these into Audacity and be presented with the ‘sound’ of your art to bend and break in any way you should desire. Export it, and marvel at the glitchy results. There’s really not much more to it than that; the full walkthrough can be found here.

Wanting to jump right into such an experiment, I turned to a drawing of legendary wrestling tag team The Road Warriors that has been laying around for several months. It’s not very good – which explains why it was never posted until now – so I thought it a worthy candidate for ‘glitching up’. It might even improve along the way.

Here is just a selection of the results, purely made in Audacity. I actually ended up producing about seventy pieces in total, for it was quite addictive, and somehow felt more organic than Photoshop; perhaps it was because I wasn’t seeing the results before exporting. I’m sure someone paying more attention to the various tools and their corresponding visual effects could create something exciting with this.

And here’s a second batch, with a little help from dear old Photoshop, though really only for adjusting hues and contrast:

I daresay those are all more interesting than the original drawing. I actually quite like the texture of the pinkish one, it seems to suit them, so this process has already proven worthwhile.

The Road Warriors are featured characters in a brand new retro wrestling game, y’know. It’s coming out early next year. Should be good…

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I’ve been gaming a lot more than creating lately – unforgivable, I know. But it did, at least, lead me to our subject: wrestler Shelton Benjamin.

A young Benjamin decided against training for the Olympics to become a professional wrestler. He signed with the WWF in 2000, and made his debut on television a couple of years later. This was at the tail-end of my watching wrestling – I was far too big and grown-up for it by then, of course. It was just silly. Whilst there was an element of that, I think a bigger factor was that I was starting to admire certain superstars in a different way; newcomer Shelton was no exception, his impressive figure squeezed into a royal blue singlet. It was confusing and scary in equal measure, but I think we can safely say it’s no longer either of those things.

On a less shallow note, I remember Shelton as a pure and gifted athlete, though, such were the times our paths crossed, I don’t know an awful lot about his career. He enjoyed multiple tag and Intercontinental title runs, upset Triple H once in a great match, and there was an incredible moment where he leapt off the top rope into a super kick from Shawn Michaels which looked, as the youth of today would say, sick. As this is not part of a series from two years ago, we’ll move swiftly on. What I do know is that he’s an avid gamer, often challenging fans at conventions, and art lover. All of this made him a natural choice. I hope you approve, Shelton. I recently made a new texture brush, and used it here – swifter movements brought about some promising results at first, but, characteristically, I found a way to overwork it, the face in particular. There’s a likeness, though, so we’ll run with it.

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Here you are now, I’ll try to entertain you. Thanks to the wheel, we’re going grungy today. I’m thinking less 1991 trend, and more playing with my texture brushes on Photoshop – that old nirvana.

With that, there wasn’t much in the way of preparation or rationale here. I went a bit mad to begin with, just dropping strokes and colour all over the shop.

I ditched those and drew a fresh R, which organically ended up with a stencil, or letterpress slant, both in form and composition:

Cutting, printing and generally playing with letters in a similar way to this was a bit of a watershed moment for me, now rather a number of years ago. With unique alphabets as the outcome, I became quite addicted, and many of my subsequent projects were firmly focused on typography. Happily, it remains exciting to this day – I’m a grumpy sod mostly, so it’s nice for there to be something that has such a simple effect.

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I say, ’tis rather toasty in here.

This was an eventful spin. There was something else I wanted to do for fiery, but it really wasn’t working, so I abandoned it – and then I saw the time! Panicked, I ended up cobbling this together in just a few minutes.

Initial attempts at something simpler were pitiful, so I did a quick google for flamy references, trying my best to capture them (very quickly) with a scratchy brush. This was followed by essentially dropped colour after colour on top in the hope of something reasonable coming through. It really is those that do all the work here.

Phew! Well, that was exciting wasn’t it? Bloody L. I need another lie-down!

horsey4Is it 2016 again? No, thank goodness. But it is National Mills Weekend, and I feel like, in my time here, I’ve bestowed a reputation on myself such that it’d be remiss to not recognise/freely advertise the event in some way. So, here we go again. For old times’ sake.

This is Horsey Windpump, a mill participating in the weekend’s festivities. It was one of the last tower mills to be constructed on the Broads, replacing an older structure in 1912. Relatively young though it is, it’s had a bit of a tumultuous time of it – struck by lightning in 1943, the stocks were split in two and that was pretty much the end of its career. Picked up by the National Trust, it was cleaned up and restored in the early sixties, but the October 1987 hurricane dealt it more damage, blowing off the fantail and cap. Quite the sob story.

Currently, the mill is in the final stages of being returned to working order. Just a couple of months ago, a brand new cap and sails were fitted, and that’s what I’ve tried to model here. I don’t know if it’s going to be turning this weekend but as I understand it’s due to be up and running soon. This is nice – there really aren’t enough working mills on the Broads.

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Note the ‘strategic’ camera angles. Long-standing readers of this blog will recall with heady nostalgia my constant complaining and frantic battles with ancient hardware on these renders, especially as vegetation came into play. Rather than put myself through the torment again, I thought I’d try something else: photato manipulation. Having visited countless times over the years, I have plenty of my own terrible photatos of this mill, and wondered if I could convincingly sew my model into them.

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It was a fiddly job and didn’t turn out especially well, possibly because the DPI of my renders was low, making scaling and cutting a bit of a pixelated mess. I did attempt to render the mill on a green background to make the ‘keying’ easier, but with physical sky lighting it only discoloured the thing. Naturally, the results were slightly better when taking colour (and proximity) out of the equation:

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But there we are, anyway. Why not mill around if you’re free at the weekend? As for Horsey, it looks like it’ll be open from 10 to 16:30 on both days. There are seals on the beach (a short walk from the mill) and if I’m feeling brave I might even make the trip myself. What more incentive could you need?

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.