Friday, October 31, 2008

Building a Powerful Comic Book Portfolio with Alvin Lee is open for registration


Course Name: Building a Powerful Comic Book Portfolio with Alvin Lee
Start Date: 02/20/2009
Seats Available: 15
Pre-Requisites: Good knowledge of perspective and human anatomy
Cost: $998


Nine Lessons in Total.

Lesson 1: Introduction to Tools and Script Analysis

In this lesson I will begin by running through all the necessary tools you will need for this course. From the proper drafting pencil to use, using a french curve, down to basic photoshop skills to scan and remove non-photo blue from the penciled page. All of the different tools you will need as a professional will be covered during this lesson. After you have been familiarized with the tools I will move forward to analyzing a script with you where you will be thumb-nailing layouts of a page, providing me with several different variations of trial and error until you have the strongest layout and why. Strong storytelling will be the foundation of this assignment.

Lesson 2: The Hero
You will be introduced to the hero and his unique features. I will cover the basic anatomy of a Hero and from there you will be completing a turnaround of the Hero that I provide for you mimicking my own personal style. This will be a test of consistency and accuracy, you will learn the fundamentals of having to draw the same character repeatedly in different angles. I will teach you how to do render a proper turnaround with the usage of guidelines which will be repeated on the hero's face.

Lesson 3: The Heroine
I will introduce you to drawing the heroine and the delicacy of a woman's figure. More importantly which lines to keep, which to take away. You will be repeating the same process and completing a turnaround of a full figure drawing I provide for you. Again you will be replicating my style but doing so in different angles to test your ability to create consistently out of your own comfort zone. I will also be covering the alluring features of a woman's face.

Lesson 4: Exaggerated Proportions and Foreshortening
After you have been accustomed to penciling the fundamentals of a comic book character we will then move on to explore the excitement of exaggeration. During this lesson I will show you interesting ways to encourage your creativity with human anatomy, especially for comicbooks. I will be providing you with a drawing of a disproportionate figure and you will be analyzing that in the form of a turnaround. After that is completed we will move on to dynamic foreshortening. I will be showing you different techniques to really make something look like it is coming towards the viewer. We will be completing a study on both arms and legs and how to foreshorten them properly.

Lesson 5: Dynamic Hands
The complete penciler must know how to draw not only realistic hands but also powerful ones. In this lesson I will be showing you tricks I have learned during my career to help you understand hands, how they work and how to exaggerate them to create a desired emotional effect. During this lesson you will also be doing a study on the expressions of your own hands and using them as your own lifedrawing tool. Those principles will be applied to a set of exaggerated comic book hands, to test your understanding and consistency.

Lesson 6: Detailing and Textures
This lesson will cover everything from the basics of light and shadow to the intricacies of detailing a page using different comicbook styles. The different techniques covered will include using hard shadows to define a character, crosshatching to create shades of dark to light, minimalistic lineart and texturing for different surface materials. Those individual comic styles will be put to the test on basic shapes to demonstrate each's properties which will then be applied to the human figure.

Lesson 7: Lightboxing and Perspective Guidelines
During this class you will learn the techniques of using a lightbox when enlarging a thumbnail. I will show you how to complete an accurate perspective grid so that you characters coincide with the backgrounds properly to avoid mishaps. I will be covering the importance of using the copy, trim and bleed lines on a comicboard and lastly I will have you enlarge your own layout previously provided to me in Lesson 1 and prepare the page for the penciling phase.

Lesson 8: Backgrounds
In this lesson you will be introduced to the establishing panel. The one panel that will showcase your versatility in drawing environments that surround your characters. I will be showing you different techniques in using perspective grids and also the application of textures for different surfaces. I will be providing you with a floorplan of an environment in which I will be helping you create the elevation. I will also be showing you tricks of the trade in making backgrounds easier for you, especially when you are limited in time. Also I will be covering a brief segment on the usage of speedlines.

Lesson 9: Penciling
Everything we have covered during the previous 8 lessons will be culminated into this final lesson! Just to give you an idea, you will be applying the light and shadow techniques in lesson 6 on the layout you provided in Lesson 1 on the page you enlarged in lesson 7. The Hero and the Heroine from lessons 2 and 3 will be drawn on the final page using one of the unique comic penciling styles and the end result will be a completed penciled page, packed with everything a powerful comicbook portfolio should include!

The fight with the wallpaper - round one

Who thought of this hideous wallpaper? I mean - fair enough in an old peoples home, but in someones bedroom??

To top it all off the wardrobes in the bedroom had been covered in a different kind of wallpaper:

It's a really bad photo, but it's a pink floral pattern. I mean - come on?! Blue flowers, pink flowers, big flowers around the ceiling? Crazy, if you ask me!

Now I've painted layer no. 1. I guess I'll need another two leayers to get the walls completely white, but it's well worth it. This is what it looks like after one layer:

Monsters of Breakfast (5 of 5): The Bite Stuff... PLUS WALLPAPER!

The Subject: General Mills cereal monsters.

The Twist: Drawing them in the style of Capcom's fighting game franchise, Darkstalkers.

It's Halloween, and here's the dude everyone has been waiting for--Count Chocula! Okay, maybe not everyone has been waiting for him, but the handful of people interested in this series of sketches have been waiting. Probably.

click above for larger view

Naturally, my interpretation of Count Chocula is based on his vampiric Darkstalkers counterpart, Demitri. This one was a lot of fun for me. I couldn't tell you why exactly... it's possible that I just enjoyed it more because it came together pretty easily. In particular, I'm happy with how the purply-brown color scheme and billowing cape turned out.

The pieces in this series were designed with a group composition in mind, so I've whipped up some wallpapers. For your convienience, both fullscreen and widescreen versions are available below. Happy Halloween!

click above for 1280 x 1024 (Fullscreen)

click above for 1920 x 1200 (Widescreen)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

GTA IV PC Requirements & Review

Rockstar Games finally released the official PC requirements. Even though these specifications aren’t surprising for game like this, many PC owners will still be disappointed with such high requirements and the fact that their “Iron Beast” wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Unfortunately it was also confirmed that the PC release date of Grand Theft Auto IV has been pushed back to the 2nd of December.
Minimum System Requirements
OS: Windows Vista - Service Pack 1 / XP - Service Pack 3
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.8Ghz, AMD Athlon X2 64 2.4Ghz
Memory: 1.5GB, 16GB Free Hard Drive Space
Video Card: 256MB NVIDIA 7900 / 256MB ATI X1900

Recommended System Requirements
OS: Windows Vista - Service Pack 1 / XP - Service Pack 3
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.4Ghz, AMD Phenom X3 2.1Ghz
Memory: 2 GB (Windows XP) 2.5 GB (Windows Vista)
18 GB Free Hard Drive Space
Video Card: 512MB NVIDIA 8600 / 512MB ATI 3870
People at IGN had a chance to test GTA IV for PC and see the difference with their own eyes. You can read their thought on the game below.
Have you played Grand Theft Auto IV yet? No? Well, on December 2nd the game's coming out on PC with some extra features and enhanced graphics, something we got to check out at a recent event in San Francisco. We didn't get the opportunity to actually install the game on our own computers; Rockstar had it set up on their own rig, so we can't say much about performance, other than what we saw and played at the demo.

According to Rob Nelson, producer at Rockstar Toronto, the PC version has been working on GTA IV PC since January with a team of around 50 members. He gave us some perspective as to why the PC version is coming out later than with Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions. "The earlier PC versions of Grand Theft Auto (since III) have always been put into production as soon as the console versions were complete; in this case, we've been working in concert with the console teams, and even a little before. The reason we're releasing six months later is due to the fact that we are building this as a pc game from the ground up and adding additional features to an already massive experience."

So what's been added since? There'll be custom match filtering for multiplayer games, though it sounds like there might be something else in the works. "At this time, all we're talking about is the custom match filtering," said Nelson. "You'll be able to create a multiplayer match with any number of specifications, and others can search for something that is just right." Players also get a built-in video editor to splice together replays, more control options and, as you might expect, better graphics.

But what about the downloadable content on the way for the Xbox 360 version? "The downloadable content is exclusive to the Xbox 360," said Nelson.

As far as content goes like missions and storyline, nothing's really changed with the single-player for the PC version. You'll still get the same kind of open-ended experience playing as protagonist Niko Bellic as, fresh of the boat, he prowls the streets of Liberty City, instigating chaos, committing crimes, and stumbling his way up from the metropolis's seedy underbelly. With the PC version, you naturally get a different input, the mouse and keyboard. If you want, though, it's entirely possible to play through with a gamepad. For our demo, an Xbox 360 controller was hooked up, and it along with the mouse and keyboard were active at the same time, meaning we didn't have to go into a control menu to swap between which input devices were active. This way, you can use the mouse and keyboard for aiming and the controller for driving, or whatever you prefer.

We can say that aiming, as might be expected, is far easier in the PC version. Making precision shots while barreling through crowded streets to blow out tires and the brains of drivers was far more practical, and should hopefully make for some more entertaining high-speed pursuits as you're more easily able to pull off desired actions. There's also a slider in the PC version to dramatically increase traffic density, which can lead to traffic jams of thirty or so cars. If you've got some explosives on you, like for instance a rocket launcher, this can lead to some serious fireworks that should be sure to please those gamers that play GTA games more for the random cop chases than the storyline and missions.

Even with all the graphics options cranked and the resolution set at a ridiculous 2560 x 1600 the game still ran well as we sped through the city and blew up as many things as possible. We checked out the specs on the rig and it turns out there was some pretty powerful hardware in there: a Core 2 Extreme X9650 CPU, GeForce GTX 280 graphics card, and 3 GB of RAM. At this setting, the game definitely looked better than the console versions, particularly with regards to the extended draw distance and less pop-up, though that shouldn't be all that surprising.

The one major difference with the PC version is the addition of a replay editor. At any time during play offline or on you're able to hit a key, F2 as default, to record a 30 to 60 second clip of gameplay. The length is determined by what's going on onscreen. You can hit F2 as many times as you want, and the game will record overlapping clips, so no worries about interruption. There's no limit on how many clips you can record, just basically as many as you've got room for on your hard drive. Once you think you've captured something you like, you can pop out to the replay editor to start customizing your clips.

The seems like a pretty useful tool, as it lets you do things like cut up and splice together different bits of clips. So if you've got five different explosions and want to string them together into a montage, you just load up each clip, set ins and out and, through a seemingly easy to use interface, string them together. For each clip you can also set a whole range of visual filters and camera angles to get the best view of the action. This way you can show shootings from the point of view of the victim, overlay a green-tinted or sepia toned filter, maybe adjust the audio levels, and add in some custom text for an added effect. Like, when the cop car explodes, you can have text pop up with some creative witticism such as "Look, this cop car is exploding."

Better draw distances, less pop-in.In addition to setting your own camera angles, it's also possible to have the camera perform movements while a scene plays out. If you want the view to orbit around Niko Bad Boys II-style while he's unloading clips or set the camera to a shaky handheld setting while he's running and gunning, that's entirely within your power. Then you can slap on a song from the soundtrack for some music accompaniment, touch up whatever else you feel is necessary, and move on to exporting the final file in 640x480, 720p, and 1080p sizes to the Rockstar Social Club where others can take a look at your creation.

Overall it seems like an easy to use but powerful editor, and something that should definitely be pretty nice for players who want to capture those chance moments in the game that seem like they'll never happen again. You'll just have to remember to hit F2.

For multiplayer, the game uses Games for Windows -- Live, the integration of which Nelson was willing to elaborate on. "Achievements for single-player, friends lists, voice communication, multiplayer anti-cheating technology, and distributed worldwide servers for robust online play... you will have the exact same achievements available from the single-player and multiplayer on the consoles."

today's jobs

Today I have:

  • installed shelves in two wardrobes

  • sorted out/unpacked/organized 7 wardrobes

  • wallpapered the bathroom door

  • carried stuff (three bin bags full!) to the recycling shop

  • carried 8 boxes up to the attic and organized the attic

  • gone shopping for food - a girl has to eat too you know

  • installed the hi fi - finally! I've got tunes again!

  • listened to 4 cd's

  • met a painter/decorator to get a price on the jobs in the flat, got slightly annoyed with what he wanted to charge and hence decided to do it all myself.

  • put up a shelf for the microwave

and quite a few little bits more too. I'm knackered. I will have a cup of tea and go to bed. That's if I don't remember any more jobs that should be done asap...

Spotlight: Carlos Rubio

Here's a shameless plug... but it's something I wanted to share.

His name is Carlos Rubio. He's a fellow Toronto subway sketcher and a student on

Carlos took the "Art of Caricature with Jason Seiler" and in a few months his paintings and skill levels have improved dramatically! While I know he's a hard working guy, it's still very impressive.

Side note: he was one of the 50 really dedicated artists that came to the zoo last Saturday despite the rain. We're proud of you Carlos and everyone else that came!

Here's his BLOG. I hope you'll take a look.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

moving update

It's something weirdly satisfying about being exhausted.

For three days in a row I have unpacked boxes, sorted out wardrobes, cleaned kitchen cupboards, put up shelves, filled holes in the wall, sanded things down and organized paperwork.

I am pooped. Completely knackered. Every muscle in my body is aching after lifting, carrying and god knows what. And it feels good! It's a physical kind of tiredness. I go to bed at night and fall asleep sooner than I can say "good night".

Today I did trip no. one to IKEA. I shall count how many trips I'll do connected to this move - bet there will be a few!

Tomorrow a man is coming to give me an estimated price to wallpaper my bedroom and paint my bathroom. Friday I'm off to buy paint for the livingroom. The kitchen and hallway will just have to wait...

I don't want bookshelves for all my books. I'm thinking of either hide them in a low, long sideboard or put a long row of wallfitted shelves just under the ceiling all around the livingroom to get them out of the way. What do you reckon? Ideas anybody?

Comic book artist Alvin Lee teaching online comic book course

Schoolism is pleased to announce that Comic Book artist Alvin Lee is going to be teaching a Comic Book Fundamentals Workshop starting February 20th, 2009.

Pre-Requisites: Good knowledge of perspective and human anatomy.

15 Spots available. Registration will start some time this week so keep checking back for updates.


Other classes open for registration,
The Art of Caricature with Jason Seiler - starts Oct 31, 2008
Digital Painting with Bobby Chiu - starts Dec 08, 2008
Character Design by Silver - starts Jan 05, 2009
Storyboarding with Kris Pearn - starts Jan 26, 2009

Visit to register.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

the finished product

So here it is: the finished product after a few weeks of preparation, cuts and god knows what else.

Yesterday I was modelling at Tony & Guy where this girl did her final exam on me and another 8 models. We were all given silver make up all around our eyes (very David Bowie if you ask me...), pale lips and all dressed in black. Very trendy, very arty and very different.

It was a long but fun day. And despite some peoples opinions I really like this style!

Monsters of Breakfast (4 of 5): Keep 'Em In Stitches

The Subject: General Mills cereal monsters.

The Twist: Drawing them in the style of Capcom's fighting game franchise, Darkstalkers.

Now we're finally getting to the heavy hitters--I present to you, Franken Berry! He's alive... HE'S ALIVE!

click above for larger view

Rather than ramble on about whatever, I'll let you all go about your business--you probably need to finish the last minute touches on your Halloween costumes. I'm dressing as a weirdo cartoonist who barricades himself in his apartment drawing obscure nerdy characters while watching cartoons and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. I guess it's not so much a costume as much as on-going performance art. On-going for the past 31 years.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Good bye old flat - Hello new!

I just don't understand where it all fitted? I lived in a bedsit for christ sake! 27 removal boxes I filled - thank god I sold my bed weeks earlier so I had a place to put all the boxes whilst packing..

And in the new flat the un-packing has begun... Did I really own this much stuff? Have I used half of it? Where do I put it now? I've given loads away. Will sell some stuff on eBay. But crikey - it's pretty chocking how much junk I've collected over these years back in Sweden!

GTA IV Achievements / Trophies

The update is finally available on the PlayStation Network to unlock the entire Trophy system for Grand Theft Auto IV on PlayStation 3. Make sure to download and install the update before playing in order to start attaining Trophies.

There are 51 total trophies, broken down by four different levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum - all contributing to your overall experience level on your PlayStation Network profile.

Grand Theft Auto IV includes a diverse list of in-game accomplishments that can be unlocked during your time in Liberty City for display in your Xbox Live and/or PlayStation Network profile. Below is a complete list of all the unlockable accolades, known as Achievements in the Xbox 360 version and Trophies in the PlayStation 3 version.

Single Player Achievements / Trophies

Off The Boat
Complete the first mission.

One Hundred And Eighty
In a darts game, score 180 with 3 darts.

Pool Shark
Beat a friend at pool.

King Of QUB3D
Beat the High Score in QUB3D.

Finish Him
Complete 10 melee counters in 4 minutes.

Genetically Superior
Come first in 20 single-player street races.

Wheelie Rider
Do a wheelie lasting at least 500 feet on a motorbike.

Gobble Gobble
Score 3 strikes in a row (a turkey) in 10-pin bowling.

Driving Mr. Bellic
Unlock the special ability of Taxi.

Rolled Over
Do 5 car rolls in a row from one crash.

Walk Free
Lose a 4-star wanted rating by outrunning the cops.

Courier Service
Complete all 10 package delivery jobs.

Retail Therapy
Unlock the special ability of buying guns from a friend.

Chain Reaction
Blow up 10 vehicles in 10 seconds.

One Man Army
Survive 5 minutes on 6-star wanted level.

Lowest Point
Complete mission "Roman's Sorrow".

Order Fulfilled
Complete all 10 Exotic Export orders.

Complete the most wanted side missions from the police computer.

Cleaned The Mean Streets
Capture 20 criminals through the police computer.

Fed The Fish
Complete the mission "Uncle Vlad".

It'll Cost Ya
Complete a taxi ride without skipping from one island to another.

Fly on all helicopter tours of Liberty City.

Warm Coffee
Successfully date a girl to be invited into her house.

That's How We Roll!
Unlock the special ability of Helicopter

Half Million
Reach a balance of $500,000.

Impossible Trinity
Unlock all islands.

Full Exploration
Complete the first mission.

You Got The Message
Deliver all 30 cars ordered through text message.

Dare Devil
Complete 100% of the unique stunt jumps.

Assassin's Greed
Complete all 9 assassin missions.

Endangered Species
Collect every hidden package in the game.

Under The Radar
Fly underneath the main bridges in the game that cross water with a helicopter.

Dial B For Bomb
Unlock the special ability of phoning for a bomb to be placed.

Gracefully Taken
Complete mission "I'll Take Her".

Liberty City (5)
After meeting all possible friends, the ones left alive all like you above 90%.

No More Strangers
Meet all random characters.

That Special Someone
Complete mission "That Special Someone".

You Won!
Complete the final mission.

Liberty City Minute
Complete the story missions in less than 30 hours.

Key To The City
Achieve 100% in "Game Progress" statistic.

Multiplayer Achievements / Trophies

Kill 5 players who are not in your team, in any multiplayer team game.

Cut Your Teeth
Earn a personal rank promotion in multiplayer.

Join The Midnight Club
Win a multiplayer race without damaging your vehicle too much and with damage enabled.

Fly The Co-op
Beat our time in versions of "Deal Breaker", "Hangman's NOOSE" and "Bomb da Base II".

Taking It For The Team
Be on the winning team in all multiplayer team games.

Top Of The Food Chain
Kill 20 players with a pistol in any multiplayer deathmatch.

Top The Midnight Club
Come first in 20 different standard multiplayer races.

Achieve the highest personal rank in multiplayer.

Auf Wiedersehen Petrovic
Win all multiplayer variations, all races and "Cops 'n Crooks", as both sides.

Let Sleeping Rockstars Lie
Kill a Rockstar developer in a multiplayer match.

Taking A Liberty
Get all the other trophies in the game.
(PlayStation 3 ONLY)