Art, Progress Update

Art Adventures: Progress Update 20th March

Long post warning!

Hi all!

This blog is about how I plan to boost my motivation and productivity by learning things, posting my progress as I build on existing skills and learn new ones. In my first post, I outlined how I will attempt to do this through working with my strengths, monitoring my mood, setting goals, breaking bad habits, removing baggage and being accountable. Though some unexpected things have cropped up over the past few weeks I’m determined to get back on track!

Last time I briefly talked about my week in Melbourne doing work experience and in conclusion I needed to keep working on my broadening my skills, particularly with InDesign, as well as improving both my mental and physical health. I’ve been looking for a course that’s delivered online (the nearest TAFE that will teach something remotely like what I need is about three hours away) that will teach me to use InDesign proficiently (and it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on the rest of Adobe’s design software). I have a few options and will follow up on those this week. I’ve also taken steps in improving my health by visiting a psychologist and my GP and intending to follow these visits up regularly.

I think this is a good time to have a look back at what my goals are as I outlined at the beginning of February, but first I’ll go over what I did last week. Art wise despite trying to get back into my routine, dashing to several appointments, rushing my dog to the vet because in typical beagle fashion he ate something he shouldn’t (in this case plasterboard that my brother left out, but he’s ok thank goodness), and playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild until my thumbs cramped, I have actually made some progress last week!

3D Animation Course

I have been busy catching up on my homework, watching the recordings of the classes and working through the exercises. I still have a bit to go but I think I’m almost on top of it. I’m finding learning Maya to be less daunting than I thought it would be, although I think that won’t be the case when we get up to the animation part. Next exercise after the snowman was making our names out of cubes. I got a bit anal about lining them up perfectly so some of them look like rectangles but I’ll bevel and colour them later and they’ll be more pronounced.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 6.17.24 pm

Next up was extruding faces of objects to achieve a different shape without using a whole heap of polygons! I… got a bit carried away with this exercise… It was only supposed to be a tower. I decided to post it to the forum for feedback as is put it aside for now but come back and finish it off later when I have more time.


We’ve also been working on the orthographic images for our robot characters. They weren’t terribly difficult for me as I’ve done something similar before, although until I get feedback from my teacher I won’t know if I’ve done it properly or not. Since a robot is more geometric, I took a different approach and constructed it out of shapes instead of drawing it with my tablet. It’s lost a bit of the robot’s personality that came through in the sketches but I think this method worked well and gives me nice clean images to work off when I’m modelling. Despite my best efforts my brother still says it looks like Claptrap from Borderlands…

I actually got the shape from our toaster and an old outboard motor sitting in Dad’s shed.

What Else…

Other than homework I got a sudden burst of energy on the weekend and quickly laid down some base colours for these two pictures.

The one on the left I might play around with a different colouring and shading method as I’m still trying to find what sort of style will work for me with working digitally.  I seem to be using a lot of orange at the moment lol and now that I’ve played Pokemon Moon he looks like he could be part of Team Skull (this particular character would absolutely hate that! roflol). Oh well…

For Tim I’ll cell shade (and I’m still not happy with his colour scheme, so much brown >_<). Funnily enough, after returning to D&D after months of absence I found out that, due to some cruelty on the rest of the party’s part, Tim is completely bald now. This is what happens when the cleric isn’t there to babysit mediate the party. Tim is so far away from the dwarven mainstream now, his family may never accept him. Poor Tim.

Comic Project: Title TBA

Not something I managed to achieve this week but something I would like to work on. I might not have mentioned this before but I actually have two projects in the works for two stories I want to tell through a manga inspired style of graphic novel, both of which I’ll publish online (because I have no idea how to go about getting them published in print and there’s more chance of it getting an audience online). The first project I’ve spent a lot of time on already and have quite a lot of the characters fleshed out (many of which will probably feature in future works :P). As the storyline is quite long actually starting it is a bit daunting. My cousin suggested to me to start with a shorter story so I don’t run out of steam.

I did a chapter of a graphic novel for my HSC Visual Arts major work and was never quite happy with how it turned out (even though I got quite high marks for Visual Arts). So I’ve decided to do a reboot, because who doesn’t want to re-do high school knowing what they know now? The storyline I’ve got a fair idea of how many chapters it’ll run for and the characters are already, for the most part, fleshed out.  I’ve already done some sketches of the main character, with a few consistency issues.

Kit designs 1
She cries a lot.. and very socially awkward. Like me! Write what you know! *Maniacal laughter*

So This Week:

This week is about getting back to what I outlined in my first post. The motivation techniques I’ll be focusing on this week will be:

  • Working with my strengths, i.e. my love of learning, by continuing with my classes and attempting to learn a new digital colouring technique.
  • Monitoring my mood by using my time productively but still taking regular breaks. It’s forecast wet weather for most of the week so I won’t be able to get out and exercise as much as I’d like to but there are other active things I can do around the house during my breaks.
  • Removing baggage by completing some of my old WIPs (hopefully) by the end of the week.

And coming back to this:

I actually need to add stuff to this…

Skills I will work on:

  • Digital colouring
  • 3D modelling
  • drawing and sketching
  • character design

With my trip to Melbourne it’s sort of thrown off my goal of having stuff finished by the end of February so I’ll settle for the end of March. Today and tomorrow I will focus on catching up with my classes. If I have time after that I will like to get these things finished (in order):

Ok! So now I’ve finished writing about what I’m going to do I should go and actually do it! Time to watch some class recordings! Wow it was a really long post this time.

Thanks for reading! ^_^

Life, Ramblings

Job Trials and Assessments

Hi everyone!

Well it’s been a while since my last update and it’s been an interesting few weeks! The short version of what happened was that I was invited to do a week’s paid trial with a business in Melbourne, while at the same time had the first assessment for my 3D Animation course due. So, needless to say, I haven’t been working on the challenge I set myself at the beginning of the month. I will however go over my reflections on what’s been happening since my last post. This’ll be a bit of a ramble and is more me trying to make sense of what I’ve been doing for the last three weeks than anything else.

First of all the work trial was a great opportunity and gave me a good deal to think about. I applied for the job on Tuesday three weeks ago and got an invitation the following day to come and work with them for a week to see how I went. I drove as far as Bendigo, which is a nine hour trip as it is, then caught the train into Melbourne to stay with my godmother.

The week itself was a positive experience. I had a feeling that I wasn’t the sort of person they were looking for, mainly because the work required quite a heavy use of InDesign which I am hardly experienced in. However, they still kept me on for the rest of the week, taught me as much as they could and provided me with very helpful feedback and advice at the end. They paid me for the week, gave me good advice on how I can proceed in my job searching (namely, learning how to use InDesign) and offered to be a reference. So all in all very positive and generous. I also got to spend some time with my godmother who is awesome and catch up with my cousin who is also a talented artist!

Despite this being such a great experience and opportunity, it wasn’t without some less positive aspects as well. It’s caused me to have to take a step back and consider what I really want to achieve. It’s also brought up a few questions about my physical and mental health that I may not have taken seriously enough. I certainly felt more homesick than expected to and being ill didn’t help much either. I won’t dwell on this too much now but it’s certainly a lot to think about.

Despite all of the emotional turmoil I still managed to submit the first assessment for my 3D Animation Foundations course. This included loglines, a synopsis, character designs, environment designs, storyboards and some sundry documentation for an animation that will be submitted at the end of the course. The brief is that it must be a short (10 – 30 second) animation starring a robot that either floats or has wheels. The course goes over the processes involved in making an animation, including basic modelling and animation in Maya (which I think is a fantastic way to start).

Final designs for my animation’s robot character

I got 100% for the assessment, which basically just means I handed in everything that was supposed to be handed in. Even better my teacher was impressed with my work and gave me super positive feedback for everything! This has motivated me to keep going, because with my own anxiety and comments from certain people I was starting to have some doubts about if doing this course would be a step in the right direction.

This week we started learning Maya. Due to illness, I’ve missed the lessons but fortunately they’re recorded for students, so I’m now in the process of going over those. First task was to make a snowman, which was fun!

I will add colour later

So, despite what’s happened in the last few weeks, it’s back to business as usual. I’m going to attempt to finish off those projects that have been sitting on my hard drive for ages (now that I’ve sorted out what will just be sketches and deleted all the unwanted projects). Hopefully I’ll make some progress on that in the next few weeks. I’ll also keep focusing on my course and look for a course that teaches InDesign. On top of that I will be taking steps to improve my health.

See you for now!

Art, Progress Update

Art Adventures: Progress Update

Hi there! Welcome to my progress blog 🙂

I plan to boost my motivation and productivity by learning things, posting my progress as I build on existing skills and learn new ones. Last week I outlined how I will attempt to do this through working with my strengths, monitoring my mood, setting goals, breaking bad habits, removing baggage and being accountable. I’ve also set myself a challenge for the month which deals with removing baggage. By the end of the month I want to have sorted all my files into three categories: projects to finish, sketches and trash. This is the first of what I hope will be many progress updates as I attempt to take charge of my life and improve my creative skills!

I think I should mention that this week was not good for me. I had a bad time with both my physical and mental health, which resulted in a trip to the doctors to have all the blood tests done and quite a few residents of Skyrim sustaining third degree burns (because flinging fireballs at people in real life is frowned upon :P). Rather than spend this entire post whinging about what went wrong though, I’m going to talk about what went right 🙂

So What Did Go Right?

First of all, I’ve started the 3d Animation Foundations course! I attended both classes and actually participated, which is actually an achievement for me! The course itself is going to be good as it takes us through the whole process of making an animation (from creating a story and character concepts to modelling, rigging and animating the character). I think it’ll teach me a lot of awesome new skills and most of all be loads of fun!

Another good thing that happened was I managed to dig out a product key for my copy of Adobe CS4 Design Premium, so now I don’t need to spend money (or resort to piracy) to play around with InDesign! Yay! It might be an old version, but I can’t afford to pay the subscription for CC, so it’ll have to do.

As for the challenge I’ve set myself, I have made some progress! Despite having a bad week, I spent less time in front of the TV and managed to at least sort the vast majority of my projects into the three categories I mentioned earlier.


Here are only a few of the pieces that made their way into the sketch pile. These are especially ones I may come back to them, but for now there’s no pressure to get them finished.

Things to Finish

The things I’ve decided to keep were decided on the basis that either a) they were a (relatively recent) request from someone else, b) they are part of a bigger project or c) they’re almost finished anyway. So far I only have five, which is much more manageable than what it was.


This is a DM screen that was meant for his birthday about two years ago. I hope I can finish it before his birthday this year at the beginning of July.


A group shot of a Dungeons and Dragons party we had going when our group had a lot of shift workers playing. The DM came up with a “Drop of the Hat” campaign with randomly rolled characters which could be picked up anywhere if the regular party couldn’t attend. The adventures were so amusing our DM requested a group picture for posterity.

These character sketches don’t have much left to do. On the left is our current D&D party’s dwarf thief “Hipster” Tim and the one on the right is a character from one of my comic projects.

Finally, yet another D&D themed project, character designs for my cleric Dana, because she’s awesome and also I wanted to eventually make a 3D model of her when I’m more competent with Maya. I only have the orthographic views to complete.

The first two of these projects still have quite a lot of work left, so I’m not going to beat myself up if they don’t get done by the end of the month, just as long as I’ve made a start on completing them.  I’ll continue to search through the rest of the accumulated USBs and external hard drives for more projects I have but I think these five will be the only ones I want to finish at this stage. With course work on top of all that I think that will keep me nicely busy for a while.

Until next week, thanks for reading!


Intro: Hunting for Motivation

(Complete with hastily drawn cartoons.)

Meet the Artist meme

Hi there 🙂

My name is Jess and I’m an artist and graphic designer. I’m introverted and a bit of a geek. My interests include video games, comics/graphic novels, manga and anime, Dungeons and Dragons and British crime dramas. I like drawing, storytelling, reading, music (except pop and country), food, beagles, ginger, tea and (plus anything in the meme above that I’ve missed).  Most of all I love learning!

This blog will basically be about my art adventures as I attempt to boost my motivation and productivity through learning new things. Here I will post my progress as I improve on existing skills and learn new ones, in the form of sketches, WIPs, writings and links to helpful resources such as tutorials, articles and references.  Most of all it’ll be something I can come back to each week and say “This is what I’ve achieved”. It is more for my own benefit, however, if anyone else finds it educational then that’s great!

I Have a Problem…

I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this either. I’m stuck in a job that isn’t that exciting, plus the added frustration of searching for a new job (long distance).  When I’m not doing those two things I have the bad habit of sitting in front of the TV, half watching shows that aren’t really that interesting and are probably rotting my brain. I’m doing it now in fact, as I write this.

Hastily drawn cartoon of what I do with my time vs what I should be doing (I’m not left handed btw lol)

I know what I should be doing, the challenge is finding the motivation to do it. For ages, I’ve been coming up with excuses but if I’m really honest with myself, the only thing or person I can blame is me. I’m responsible for what I do. Granted, a long-term struggle with depression hasn’t been helpful, but the only way I can improve that is to be proactive!

First I did some (very quick) research, because I’ve been told I’m good at researching things. There are plenty of articles out there on how to increase your motivation levels. Here’s three I got in my Google search that I found interesting:

9 Steps to Staying Motivated, for Artists, Makers and Creative Freelancers

How to Start Making Art Again

5 Ways to Rediscover Your Art and Reclaim Your Passion

Reading these articles and hearing other people’s experiences gave be a fair idea about what I want to do next.  I’ve picked things that I think will work for me, but different things may work for different people.

Plan of Attack!

For now I’m going to focus on:

  • Working with my strengths
  • Monitoring my mood, so making my workspace as inviting as possible.
  • Breaking bad habits bit by bit. I’ll start with not sitting in front of the TV as soon as I get home.
  • Removing excess baggage. Letting go of projects I haven’t worked on for a while.
  • Setting goals and participating in challenges.
  • Being accountable (which is what this blog and social media is for!)

I’m already happy with my workplace, so it’s just a matter of keeping it clean and tidy (and switching on the fairy lights because I’m easily amused :D).  Breaking bad habits is just a matter of persistence and willpower, which I think will get easier as I get better at the other points. Because of the isolated nature of the place where I live I’ll have to rely on the internet to remain accountable, (although I may explore the option of starting a local sketch jam if I get the courage).

My greatest strength is my love of learning (hence the main premise of this blog). I’m already due to start AIE’s online 3D Animation Foundations course tomorrow (can’t wait!!), but I would like to work on my current skills too.

As a start, I’ve made a list of strengths, weaknesses and new things I’d like to learn. Please note that this is my own personal assessment of my current skills. Just because I’ve marked something as a strength doesn’t mean I’m terrific at it, just as I may not be completely useless at something I’ve marked as a weakness. It’s just what I’m comfortable with and there is always room for improvement!


To keep momentum going (and so I don’t have the excuse of “I have no inspiration”) I’m going to set goals and participate in different challenges (and competitions if I have the courage) throughout the year. There are heaps of artistic challenges out there, and I’ll go over the ones I want to do later. For now, I’m just going to set myself my own personal goal; to clean up my hard drive. By the end of the month I’d like to have gone through all the half-finished projects I have and either finish them, decide to keep them as a sketch, or delete them entirely. Hopefully that’ll make my workload less daunting and open up my time for projects that I really want to do.

Hopefully all of this will keep me on the right track.  I’ll find my motivation again, learn new things and break bad habits! Sound like a plan? I hope so, or I face remaining in this rut forever (and looking like a loser on the internet :P). Got any other suggestions or your own experiences? I’d love to hear from you 🙂