Apprehensions of a Graphic Designer

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Before I got into doing graphic design I tried asking around what it was like. After all, graphic design is a blanket term that could apply to any number of tasks involving visuals. Despite the ambiguity, a lot of the answers I got included "repetitive" and "thankless" in their descriptions. Now that I've been doing it for about a year in various forms, I can see what those people were talking about.

Repetition comes from having to modify the same project over and over again. Sometimes it's because of the disconnect between what a supervisor has in mind and what the artist ends up making. Sometimes it's simply to be able to choose from multiple versions of a design.

The thankless part comes from supervisors not fully understanding the process of creating the visuals. Some are unaware of a task's difficulty level. Others know about the difficulty and just want something despite how long it would realistically take to accomplish.

Another neccessity is to be working towards a clear objective. In graphic design it's important because of the repetive tasks of re-editing past and present projects. What's the point of reworking a composition if you don't even know what it's supposed to be accomplishing?

Now that I think about it, much of what I just mentioned could be applied to many other jobs. What's really worrying me is that I'm becoming more focused on very specific aspects such as measuring units, angles and fonts... and liking it. There's nothing wrong with taking pleasure in these things, in fact I know some people that do *cough* Dianne *cough*. I just feel this is somehow affecting my creativity. If I were to use an analogy, I'd say I'm used to being a Photoshop person and now I'm increasingly becoming an Illustrator/InDesign person. The point being is that I don't want to end up like this:

I guess what's preventing that from happening is the source material I get to play around with. If you want a mere taste, just check out these sites here, here, here, here and here. Seriously, I can just stare at some of the artwork I have in front of me and get inspired to create something new and original. The competive nature that's been driving me all my life gets a boost of motivation. Unfortunately, working two jobs limits the amount of time I have for creative endeavors. That's probably why I'm getting my creative kicks from character creation modes in video games, like I mentioned in a previous post. Going back to my Adobe analogy, there's no reason why Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign should be mutually exclusive. Just look at how the Adobe Creative Suite series has improved compatibility between those programs. Where I work, I have access to use every single Adobe program. The possibilities are endless and completely up to me. There are worse things I could be complaining about.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

That scream is hands down the funniest sound I have ever come across. When I first heard it, it didn't register much. It was just some guy screaming. Then I started to hear it more and more, each time in more ridiculous contexts. Now whenever I hear the scream, I can't help but break out in a hysterical giggle fit. It has to be the real deal though. Unless you can mimic the scream to perfection, don't think you now have the power to make me laugh on a whim.

Anyways, while the Wilhelm Scream is probably more well known, considering it has an actual name and backstory, this stock scream blows it away with its range of usage. The scream's aural qualities are what make it so special. The way that it's screamed by the original individual is so over the top, that it becomes immediately recognizable whenever it is heard. It's context also isn't limited to one of fearful pain, like the Wilhelm. This scream can be used for surprise, rage and/or anguish. It barely even sounds like a human scream. For the longest time, I described the scream by comparing it to the sound a TIE Fighter makes when it flies. The exact origin of this scream is still pretty murky and one of the reasons why it is so difficult to find information, let alone describe. Going through the comments on Youtube, I've learned that the scream is supposedly found in the Hollywood Edge sound library as "Hollywood Edge - PE 13 - Human Sounds 1 - 44 - Man Screams #3- Gut-Wrenching With Fall." Someone also wrote that it's earliest appearance was in a 1950's zombie movie, yelled by soldier as he was being eaten. I honestly don't care. The mysterious origin is part of the scream's appeal for me.

Here are some other examples:

I leave you now with a new game you can try the next time you go driving. Whenever you see a car switch two or more lanes in rapid succession or switch lanes at the very last second (as in capable of causing an accident), you scream "youraagh" to the best of your abilities. It works wonders in preventing road rage, especially down here with all the psycho drivers in Los Angeles.

Posted by Batalla at 12:22 AM 2 comments  

The Joy of Character Creation Modes in Gaming

Monday, August 18, 2008

Whenever I see a truly robust character creation mode in a game, I usually end up fiddling around with it more than the actual game itself. The best one I've used to date is in WWE's Smackdown vs. Raw series. There are plenty of ways to manipulate clothing, physical attributes and most importantly, the characters' movesets/animations. There's certain puzzle element to these modes as well because they never have the exact parts you need. You have to get a little creative with the existing ones at your disposal. As much as I like coming up with original creations when writing or drawing, I'd rather try to recreate existing characters/people in these game modes. I think it comes back to the puzzle element because I know they have to look a certain way. There's an actual objective and criteria to match against. The best part comes from watching the created characters exist in the game engine. If they transition seamlessly into it, then I know I've succeeded. Not only does a character have to look like whatever it's supposed to be, but it should also possess the same behaviors.

The latest one I've been using can be found in Soul Calibur IV. It's relatively new, so not that many instructions have been made online. There's still a sense of discovery when creating characters. The pictures below are ones I made using Soul Calibur IV's Create-a-Soul mode. I'm proud to say I made them without looking at any existing instructions online, only reference pictures from the source material:

Xena vs. Gabrielle

Mugen vs. Jin

Kim Wu vs. Zealot

Tusk vs. Maya

Jago vs. Fulgore

Orchid vs. Combo

Riptor vs. Sabrewulf

Thunder vs. Spinal

Glacius vs. Cinder

Ryo vs. Lady Kayura

Rowen vs. Anubis

Sage vs. Cale

Kento vs. Dais

Cye vs. Cale