Examination and self-review; My Fallout New Vegas Piece Pt. 2

Artwork, Stream News

Hi everyone, I’m writing again! The piece has been completed, and I can now go into all the details about the process! Just like last time, I will speak about the progression, my thought process, and what details I chose to add or omit. Let’s take a look!

We left on version 9, and version 10 is not all that different from afar. However, this is the point where the placement and coloration was more or less set. I decided begin the long process of inking the piece. I went to my sloppy rough draft inks that I used to block the piece out, set them to a lower opacity (20-50% depending on the colors beneath it) and went in with a finer brush. All that mattered at this point was getting in the fine lines. I would go by my original inks, while looking at a photo reference. In some cases, I would literally plop the reference on the piece and trace over portions of it. I did that for maybe 15% of the linework, but most of it was done by hand.

I moved up and around, inking in all the areas in their final positions. In version 11 I completed the rest of the Strip, REPCONN, some of Goodsprings, and more. I blocked in a little color on the strip to make sure my dark areas were not disruptive. These next few versions look like tiny changes, but it was the backbone of everything that was yet to come. If we zoom in on the REPCONN facility, we can see the differences that an hour of linework can make:

See the difference between the rough and final drafts? It’s pretty major. I think I could save myself time in the future by keeping my rough drafts even rougher. You can see in the third image above that the established palette was paying dividends, allowing me to quickly describe the space without having to rely heavily on references for colors.

Step 5: Giving New Vegas Weight

Now we are starting to see some leaps and bounds in terms of settling on detail! At this point, most all of the linework has been completed. This includes the solar panels (but not the guns) in the foreground. Clockwise from the Strip, I have completed the major locations except the Fort, Nipton, Primm, and Quarry Junction. I also realized around this time that the white cross in the center of the piece was in the wrong location; in the end it was cut from the piece, since moving it would create too much interest smashed into the right side of the piece.

There was, at this point, what I like to call the “work” part of “artwork”. There was lots of linework that took place in very small spaces, so progress felt very slow. I would take a break on one area and work on another if I got restless. Often during the hop from version 13 to 15, I would find myself contouring the land, trying to make each town feel like an attractive space of its own. At some point I picked up all of Goodsprings and shifted it to the left, and I used that time to cut the Yangtze memorial cross out of the piece. I also shifted the brown bottle in the foreground into the frame a little bit, since it was interesting and recognizable.

In this period of time, I did a great deal of work on the Fort, the foreground elements, and in tightening up my colors. We decided to add a little bit of flavor to Red Rock Canyon, which was not an original plan. The addition of the red color was welcome though, and it let us add a little more Fallout flavor to the piece. What was once intended to be just a red cliff turned into a very neat visual element, that also steers us through the piece via colors (more on that at the end!) I thought I was almost done at this point, but I had 5 more versions left!

Step 6: One Million Finishing Touches, and a discussion on Palette

By this point I had been working on the piece for several weeks. Deciding that I needed to wrap this up, I started to add details. It was time to add characters populating the world, shade and light. Throughout all of it, I was happy I had the foresight to start a palette early, as it greatly reduced friction. I didn’t have to stop and think about every new city or landscape portion; I looked at the palette and applied it as needed. There are, of course, a few off-label colors, primarily in signage and the strip, but for the most part the entire final drawing is limited to the 28 colors you see here:

12 in the “brown-yellow” group
6 in the “red” group
3 in the green group
7 in the blue group

The brown yellows were the most diverse color group since they had so much to describe. They are used for buildings, the desert, the mountains, and more. I chose the colors to be moderately desaturated, for two reasons. One, I think that it reflects the mood and the actual darkness of the game itself. Two, bright yellows can appear gaudy and bright if they are not mixed with some gray, especially when they are printed! In addition, the desaturated colors will mix well into browns as you add more and more black into the mix. As a result, the piece has a harmony to it from the continuous spread of colors from the bright white-yellow to the darkest browns.

The reds I called “Sloan reds”, since I came up with the colors while working on the rusted and painted metal that made up that small town. Red was sparsely used in this piece, but when we look at the finished piece we can see that it had an impact in the way it draws attention across the piece diagonally.

The blues were vital for shading the mountain, New Vegas Strip, and the foreground. Most of the linework was done in the darkest blue color. I try to avoid using straight-up black lines, since they end up standing out too much. I ended up using blue for anything that I needed to describe as glass, metal, or water.

The versions look really close to one another now, so I will skip ahead from v16 to v18. The big differences are in the landscape near the statues in the back, the glow-up of the Lucky 38 tower (the big blue one), and making the Strip look more lived-in and full of life. I also was going in, adding additional shadows and linework. You can see that I started adding hatchwork into the landscape, blending areas together and making the piece look more unified. It can be a struggle to take so many disparate elements and make a single composition with them.

All of that work got us to here! While I am excited to speak about the final, I think this article is already very long. I will follow up soon with a short discussion about the color choices, and my goals in getting the eye to wander over the piece. Thanks for reading! Please check out the rest of my work, send me a message, leave a comment, order a drawing for yourself!

It is Impossible To Stop Now

Artwork, Stream News

Hi everyone, guess what? Stopping now is out of the question. Isn’t that great?

Growing is a process that is so baked in to human character, that you do not always feel it happen. Progress is often incremental, and time often passes quickly. When I compare my new work to the old, I see the refinement of my style. Like a piece of land eroded by millions of years of water and tectonics, my mental palette of design choices had settled into something that I can call my own. There are limitations, and there are strengths.

So great, how did I develop that style and why am I so happy with myself all of the sudden? Iterations! Practice! Discipline! And lots of sacrifice. Sacrifice of game nights, of sleep, of time spent with friends.

I am working on my Fallout: New Vegas landscape diligently, and it is looking fantasmic if you ask me.

Work in progress, 2021 by Ben Sutter

My next post will be detailing my process, looking at this drawing from its fuzzy beginnings to a stellar finish. In the mean time, thanks for checking in!

If You’re Not Creating For Yourself, What Are You Creating For?

Stream News

It’s been a couple of months. My garden got big and I ate lots of tomatoes. Then the shade and heat won, and I was left with withering stalks. Still, the season was alright, with cucumbers and herbs overwhelming. We even had a few decent melons.

School started for my daughter. She is learning to manage her expectations of humanity… after a year of being home-schooled she is out in the thrashing waters of humanity and she wants to know if people ever calm down and act smart in groups. I really hated to tell her that no, this is the way it is. You can control yourself, and what you think and do (up to a point), but you cannot control everyone else.

Anyway, the title, why do I write things like this? I love creating, and I just want to make piles and piles of things to exist forever until I cannot anymore, whether that be a song or a drawing or an emotion. i have opened up my commissions page for the first time in a very long time and it represents me creating for others as well, sharing and creating things that have depth in their meaning. By doing this I am overcoming a fear of sacrificing more of my time, and part of that is feeling that it is NOT really a sacrifice, but a step forward, and a concrete way to help me continue to create.

Hopefully all of that will give me a deeper bond with my fellow humanity, that is really what my end-goal is here. Making things for people to love, the way that I love making them.

So in other news, I have fallen deep into making pixel artwork. Imagine picking up a program and it changes your creative course! I am speaking of Aseprite, a program that allows me to make animations with some pixel art with amazing ease! Look forward to my pixel art gallery coming soon!

UPCOMING UPDATES: I will be making a new gallery for my pixel art, and a new easier link to the commissions page. Thanks for checking me out, kind reader. I will never get less weird, that is my promise to you.

RECENT UPDATES: Commissions Page is complete! 2021 Gallery updated with many new pieces! Who knew I was making so much this year?

What’s Happening at godrod.org?

Coloring Cuisine

Mm, yes, nothing like a well-oiled, frequently-updated website!

I have been out of the art game after a decent start in 2020, since my carpal tunnel syndrome had taken a turn for the worse. CTS is used as a joke so often these days that it may seem like I’m making a joke too, but no: I legitimately have been artistically incapacitated for months. Covid-19 afforded me a huge chunk of time to be alone and create, but that was not what happened. Thank goodness for the support and entertainment afforded by my wife and kid during the past 6 months!

Instead what I got was months of being stuck in my own head. I could not draw, or write, or play piano, or even play video games without constant, dull-to-intense pain in my wrists and fingers. CPT is like having a zip-tie pulled tight where you would wear a wristwatch. For me, it meant lots of compounding factors: Wrist pain, finger pain, random feelings of ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ or ‘electric shock’ in the fingertips, dropping things like pens, eating utensils, tools. Any exercise that would put pressure on my wrists or relied upon me holding myself up was out of the question; this cut out biking, pushups, pullups, or anything like throwing a frisbee or a ball.

In short, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome sucks really badly. You never realize how much you use your hands until everything has a ‘pain cost’ associated with it. Once my wife noticed that I was complaining of pain a lot when I cracked her back, she encouraged me to do some exercise to improve my wrist strength. I did a few minutes of this exercise, which was essentially a push-up where you rocked back and forth, and the pain was absolutely excruciating. I tried to write on paper, and the results looked like that of an 80 year old; I was terrified.

Three years later, after an unsuccessful Workman’s Comp claim (apparently typing all day for years will NOT cause CTS according to the WC Doctor who denied my case), some pain management, and a few tests, I had surgery on my right wrist. The day after, I could wiggle my fingers, and even though I was still recovering, I could tell that IT HAD WORKED. The random pain blips were gone. I didn’t drop things. I could play piano and my fingers actually went were I told them to go. It was glorious.

That’s where I am today. That procedure was a month ago, and my hand is feeling better all the time. I still have to go easy on it for a while, so I will not be creating new work for another month or so. I already made things worse two weeks post-surgery by trying to practice piano for an hour a day; that lasted for 2 days until my hand got swollen again from overuse. Thus I am going to ‘take it easy’ with the knowledge that I will be back in front of a drawing desk or keyboard in prime condition.

I know there are few, if any, regular readers of godrod.org; after all, I have not been keeping up with the site very well. I will make an effort to change that. Having my hand back feels like a near-death experience with less of the mess. I thought my creative life was over, and I was worried it would lead to a spiral of bad thoughts that I would have difficulty recovering from. At this point though, I plan on adding more art as I make it, and possibly branching out into music and other creative pursuits. The surgery was a new lease on life and I plan on taking full advantage!

Thanks for reading. If your hands hurt, and you joke that you have CTS, remember that that joke may have some truth to it. Don’t be afraid to get it checked out like I did. See you again real soon!

Lots of New Art for 2020!

Coloring Cuisine

It’s 12:21am at night and I should be getting to sleep. But instead here are some updates for 2020. It’s good news!

I want 24 drawings by the end of March. I’m up to seven so far so let’s keep cracking away at it.

I’m streaming a lot more often now. It keeps me active and drawing when I otherwise would not. I’m hesitant to share plans because I never know if I am going to be able to follow through without making some considerable sacrifice, but I do have plans, or at least goals. Speaking of goals, here are some of the foods I want to draw to fill out those 17 drawings I have left to do (entries I have already drawn are in bold):

  • Guacamole
  • Baklava
  • Pizza
  • Sliced Brisket
  • Chili Mac
  • Enchiladas Platter
  • Coq Au Vin
  • Pork Loin Sandwich (Iowa Skinnies)
  • New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
  • Citrus
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • French Toast
  • Eggs (served lots of ways)
  • Chicken Stock
  • Saag Paneer w/ Naan and Chuts
  • Omelettes
  • Ice Cream
  • Sushi

Immediate Goal: Make a coloring book made of these cuisine pages. I’ll take my high-res scans and make a foodie coloring book; sounds great! Putting that college to good use.

Distant stretch goal: I want to make some videos that speed up the art process like a time-lapse. I have lots of footage now but speeding things up and putting a song to it will be seen by more people in my reckoning.

More Distant Stretch Goal: Make some videos that talk about an aspect of art or of composition. For example, just spend one episode talking about the visual window or implied diagonal, and go through how the concepts are applied.

52 Weeks, 52 Drawings

Uncategorized

At the start of this year I said I would draw 52 drawings. This is despite some unfortunate wrist pain, a 4-year old, and an erratic work ethic. It was my choice and I made it. Now the field looks different: Have I over-promised? Overestimated? Only me can find out.

I’m sure to some, 52 drawings would be considered paltry output. I think of comic book artists and what they must have to go through to finish anything, and that adds up to hundreds and hundreds of drawings a year. That’s a lot, but it’s also what they do for a living so I can cut myself a little slack there.

But you have to start somewhere, and there is nothing to spur creativity like limitations! I imagine that what I consider to be a “drawing” will be stretched to the limit by December 31st, 2020. My standards are pretty simple, so I could always spit out a few quick sketches when the deadline looms, I suppose. I don’t draw as regular as I should, and my art schedule is as regular as I am. I didn’t do “Inktober” because that’s too corporate. I write that but frankly, if I’m anywhere close to 52 drawings by the end of the year then I will start counting rooms I’ve painted as a ‘drawing’ to pad the count.

I’ll post more as I photograph them. If I get to 52 then I will throw a party to everyone that reads this and can make it down.