Monthly Archives:July 2011

Art and Such: Comic Art Show 2011

31 Jul , 2011,
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If you thought there was something geek going down at Wilkie Edge yesterday, then you’re right on the mark. Comic Art Show 2011 kicked off at the building’s atrium yesterday, in a collaborative exhibition that hosted four exceptional artists from the Asian scene.

Featuring the works of Kelvin Chan, Noval Hernawan, Rudy AO and Wendy Chew, it was a veritable showcase of comic book heroes, villains and characters from the Western side of things, and I was blown away by the sheer quality of it all.

It was therefore inevitable that I ended up picking up ‘loot’, including a signed copy of rocketraygun (by Kelvin Chan). I also managed to corner the artists to chat with them about how they got their start in sequential art, and whether they had any tips for comic book hopefuls (we’ll be publishing those interviews in the next couple days).

And speaking of ‘loot’, I managed to get my hands on an awesome X-Men print by Mico Suayan thanks to the cool guys who put this event together. Mico’s going to be a guest at STGCC, so if you’re a fan, be sure to grab your tickets quick!

Here are some pics from the event:

 

If you missed the Comic Art Show yesterday, don’t fret. The event’s till 9 pm tonight (Sunday). The artists will also be making their rounds at STGCC at the end of the month, so that’s another chance for you to meet them.

You can also check out their online portfolios at:

Kelvin Chanwww.rocketraygun.com
Noval N. Hernawanwww.kirbycrackle.com
Rudy AOwww.aoillustration.com
Wendy Chew (Mashi)mashi.deviantart.com

 

The Neo Tokyo Project’s Second Geek Giveaway:

If you noticed that caption up there that said Contest treasure, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. We’ve got some art cards from rocketraygun’s Kelvin Chan to give away, and here’s how you can get your paws on them.

1. Like our Facebook page.

2. Spread the love. Tell your friends about The Neo Tokyo Project on Facebook. Each Like from your friends counts as one chance, so the more friends you get to like our page, the better the odds of getting ahold of some loot.

3. This contest closes on 14th August 2011, so get cracking! XD

Crafting a Tome

Jul , 2011,
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What do these items have in common? Well, they're gonna be turned into tome fodder! XD

In any fantasy story, powerful practitioners of the magical arts are often equipped with tomes of eldritch lore – spellbooks that contain the entirety of their knowledge.

But for all their arcane might, there’s one thing us cosplayers know that wizards don’t. That’s how to make a convincing facsimile, and that tome crafting can be as easy as refurbishing an old book, or sandwiching a sheaf of papers between two pieces of EVA foam sheets.

This tutorial will take you through the process, which will take approximate 45 minutes to complete.

Stuff you’ll need: 

1. An old book or lots of paper, cut to size.

2. Some EVA foam

3. Some leather scraps

4. A piece of embossing foil

5. Some embellishments

You’ll also need a craft knife, scissors, craft glue and a cutting board.

Step 1:

Crease and fold the cover of the book against its fold lines. Then use a piece of tape to reinforce the cover.

Press it down...

Then stick some tape on it.

Step 2:

Using either tape or craft glue, join the frontispiece and back page to the front and back covers respectively.

Using double sided tape here. XD

Join those pages together like so.

Step 3:

It’s time to do some cutting. Cut out a piece of EVA foam large enough to wrap around your book or paper sheets. You’ll be making a paper “sandwich” with them. Cut into three pieces – one for the front cover, one for the back cover, and one for the spine. Apply craft glue, and stick them in place.

You want something about this big.

On goes the glue...

Spread it out nice and neat.

Paste on each piece of EVA foam one at a time...

Trim to size.

You'll eventually end up with something like this.

Step 4:

Cut out a large enough piece of leather to go around the beefed up book. Wrap and stretch, so the leather fits snugly. Using glue, affix it to the EVA foam and leave to dry.

Piece of leather, cut to size.

Wrap it all up, and glue everything into place.

You're essentially done! It's just decorating next.

Step 5:

Cut out a piece of embossing foil, and paste it on the front cover of your tome using craft glue. Repeat the same for the back cover of your tome, then add on embellishments to create intricate designs on the cover.

In this case, we’ve decided to steampunk it up, but anything goes. Just use your imagination!

And voila~! A tome of your own!

Collaborations are awesome – Working with Pendora's Box

29 Jul , 2011,
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A couple days ago, I was pleasantly surprised when Yannaele le Goanvic of Pendora’s Box approached me on DA about creating a work of art based off my Warlock cosplay.

She was interested in creating a fantasy piece dripping with dark magic, and when she put it that way, how could I resist? Here’s a screen cap of the completed project:

warlock, world of warcraft, wow warlock, t5, corruptor's raiment, crimson, warlock cosplay, warlock cosplayer, tier 5 cosplay, wow warlock cosplay, wow warlock tier 5 cosplay, wow warlock cosplayer

WoW Warlock T5 - A photomanipulation piece, courtesy of Pendora's Box.

It was truly an honor to work on this collaboration with her to bridge the gap between art and cosplay – to manifest something better than the sum of its parts.

I love especially the treatment. The wash of orange, the reddish cast to the eye and the stream of roiling hellfire complement each other, evoking the feel of a true master of demonology and fel, destructive magics.

Do check out Yannaele’s work on her blog and her facebook fan page, especially if you’d like for her to take a crack at some of your pictures!

Oh Captain, my Captain – Captain America: The First Avenger

28 Jul , 2011,
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Captain America: The First Avenger - Poster Art

Move over, Harry Potter, because Captain America‘s in town.

The film, about the origins of Marvel’s star spangled man, is the fourth and final installment in the company’s lead-ups to The Avengers (due to screen next Summer) and it opens in theaters here this week.

Unlike it’s fellows (which include a fairly average Thor, two Iron Man movies, two Hulks, and enough X-men to change a light bulb), Captain America boasts a vibe that’s markedly audacious. It’s inundated with retro charm, and carried by a screenplay that takes the superhero genre back to it’s Golden Age beginnings.

Taking place in America in the early 40s, the film introduces us to scrawny, but spunky Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans, and liberal amounts of CG), a kid from Brooklyn who’s been trying, and failing to enlist in the US Army due to a plethora of health issues.

At the World Expo, he encounters military scientist Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), who is taken by his selfless qualities, and offers the lad a chance to become part of a secret Super Soldier experiment.

The experiment succeeds – Rogers gets all buff and tough, but Nazi infiltrators kill Erskine and destroy the facility, preventing the US Army from ever replicating the experiment.

His heroics and courage under fire manage to land him a gig as a propaganda tool however, and Captain America becomes the war effort’s new poster boy, funky tights, shield and all. He gets his big break, and a chance to do some real soldiering when he discovers that the unit of his best friend Bucky Barnes has been captured by HYDRA and it’s fanatics, and sets out on a solo mission to bust them out.

And that’s just the call to action. Can you believe that?

Chris Evans was likeable and sincere in his role as Steve Rogers. He made a great ‘little guy’ in a dichotomy that was heightened by Hugo Weaving’s portrayal of the sadistic Red Skull. Hayley Atwell comes aboard as spunky love interest Agent Carter, while Tommy Lee Jones was near perfect as Colonel Philips, with his trademark grizzled personality and witticisms.

The writing was solid, playing complement to director Joe Johnston’s mastery of the visual language. His reconstruction of the War era, with it’s sepia wash and muted colors, oozes understated genius, while his keen sense of pacing served up the plot in neat segments that kept my eyes glued to the big screen – an otherwise rare thing to do, considering my low opinion of blockbuster movies.

Captain America’s a great movie, and that’s a label I don’t use often. It’s an evocative movie that reaches beyond the CG and special effects, the cast and the visuals.

Rather, it’s resonant because for a big geek like me, there are certain universal truths I look out for in a comic book adaptation – the triumph of good over evil, self sacrifice and humility. These Captain America manages to serve up, and more.

Oh, and stay after the credits. You’ll be in for a treat.

Comic Art Show 2011

26 Jul , 2011,
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Comic Art Show 2011 - Promo Poster

If you haven’t yet made plans to geek out this coming weekend, you’re in luck.

Several independent artists are coming together to bring you the Comic Art Show 2011, showcasing their interpretations of popular comic book superheroes, villains and characters.

The artists will also be on hand to take special requests, and you’ll be able to pick up sketches and other merchandise too, so how cool is that?

The Comic Art Show 2011 opens Saturday, July 30 at 10:00am till Sunday, July 31 at 9:00pm and is hosted at Wilkie Edge, just round the corner from Peace Centre.

Don’t forget to swing over to their event page on Facebook for updates about the event, and keep your eyes peeled for coverage and photographs by yours truly. XD

Wu Xia – Where Martial Arts meets CSI

25 Jul , 2011,
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Wu Xia - Poster Art

I’ve always had a soft spot for Hong Kong cinema, and being a big fan of Peter Chan’s films since I watched Perhaps Love all those years ago, I was all hyped up for the kick ass kungfu goodness that was Wu Xia.

Predictably this genre blender, which combines the best elements of martial arts with mystery, did not disappoint.

With Chan at the helm, and Donnie Yen (also the lead actor) heading the fight sequences, Wu Xia boasted exceptional choreography, excellent aesthetics, and proficient storytelling. The result was a near picture perfect production – one with an intellectually stimulating setup, and an emotionally satisfying payoff.

The tale takes place in a remote village in Yunnan, China and unfolds like an episode of CSI. Donnie Yen plays mild-mannered Liu Jinxi, a paper maker, who happens to foil a robbery by two notorious criminals at the general store. Drawn into the investigation is Takeshi Kaneshiro, in the role of nerdy detective Xu Baijiu, who suspects that Liu is nothing like what he claims to be.

Police procedure comes in the way of gainful exposition and clever re-enactments (ultimately these take place in Xu’s head, in saturated color), spiced with forensic know-how, principles of acupuncture and homeopathic Chinese cures. It’s a fresh perspective – one that puts paid to martial arts mysticism, and grounds it in real world science.

That is not to say that martial arts aren’t the highlight of the show. The fight scenes are believable, epic and violently visceral, if sparse. Still, each one is captured perfectly through the use of dynamic camera angles and close ups, and made all the more characteristic by the focus on “hard” fighting styles.

Donnie Yen manages a convincing performance as Liu, but it’s Takeshi Kaneshiro who shines as the conflicted officer of the law. He executes Xu’s internal monologues (and the really corny provincial accent) with panache, and in his bumbling yet determined way, ends up stealing the show (he’s also the real hero at the end, but you’ll have to watch it yourself to find out why).

Central to the film is the theme of redemption – both Liu and Xu have their fair share of personal demons to exorcise, and this thread, like a tangled skein, unravels as the story progresses. The pacing is near perfect, each scene a layer that peels back to reveal some tasty tidbit of characterization; some morsel a discerning film goer can latch on.

Wu Xia is arguably one of Peter Chan’s greatest works, a thoroughly enjoyable piece of storytelling that modernizes and reinvigorates the martial arts genre.

It’s a must watch for any martial arts movie fan, though peeps who are in it for instant gratification rather than the artful plot might find it a bit of a drag (in which case I say “Humbug!” to you).

Now, if only there were a Wu Xia 2. XD

CosCards Revisited: Social Media Icons

24 Jul , 2011,
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In my earlier tutorial, I described the basics of creating and printing your very own CosCard.

If you’d like to personalize the  design of your CosCard even further, why not consider integrating social media icons into your layout?

With the prevalence of social media, these icons are easily recognizable. What’s more, rather than representing contact details such as Email, Facebook, or DeviantArt in plain text, you could utilize icons that say the same. This reduces not only clutter, but also lends your CosCard a much sleeker, streamlined feel.

Here's an example. XD

There are many free social media icon sources out there, and there’s a whole bunch of them aggregated on Web Designer Depot, ready for download, so check them out.

Some really cool ones available from the website include:

1. Vector Social Media Icons by Icon Dock 

A really clean, scalable icon set. This works best with CosCards sporting a white background.

Vector Social Media Icons, by Icon Dock

2. White Button Social Media Icons by Clay Cauley Inc.

These buttons are round, and rad and totally awesome. They’re great for CosCards that look like trading cards, or feature a circular motif.

A Sample of Clay Cauley Inc.'s White Button Social Media Icons.

3. Matte Black Social Media by Web Treats ETC.

If you’re fond of black, consider this set of really classy icons.

Matte Black Social Media by Web Treats ETC.

4. Page Peel by Productive Dreams

If you’d like social icons that burst from your CosCard, try this one.

Page Peel social media icons

5. Social Buzz Icon Pack by IconShock.com

Some really stylish, 3D buttons.

Social Buzz Icon Pack by IconShock.com

World of Warcraft: Rogues Studio Shoot

23 Jul , 2011,
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Joey and I had a great time setting up, styling, and modelling for our second World of Warcraft photography session yesterday.

It was fun to be behind the camera again, and nothing beats the kind of control you have in a studio environment – it’s so easy to bend light to your will, to determine every angle, and shape every variable to craft a pretty picture.

Since we were both rogues this year, we decided to go with a black backdrop, the better to simulate the rogue’s ability to blend into and step out of the shadows. We also decided that we would try something a little more experimental, illuminating only one side of the body, while leaving the other obscured to heighten the dramatic quality of the shoot.

To execute this concept, we went with 2 flash units in soft boxes – one (1) was a vertical strip light, while the second (2) was standard fare. A black bounce (a large, rectangular styrofoam board, painted black on one side) was placed parallel to the strip light, to absorb excess fill from our light sources.

Here’s a diagram showing the studio set-up:

Our lighting setup.

In many of the photos, the second light was either dimmed, or triggered only when there was insufficient light cast on the face. It was switched off otherwise.

Here’s a look at the results of the shoot:

1000 Steampunk Creations

22 Jul , 2011,
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If you’re as crazy about steampunk as I am, then you’ll probably fall instantly in love with 1000 Steampunk Creations, showcasing the best in steampunk from around the world and the web.

I was sourcing for inspiration for my latest costume at Planerds – a re-imagining of my Victorian vampire garb, when I chanced upon this title and flipping through the pages just totally blew me away.

It’s hard to describe what’s in this book (since it’s full of pictures) save that it aggregates everything from steampunk home appliances (like that crazy re-skinned Mac computer) to fashion and accessories. What’s more, it covers all aspects of steampunk so there’s plenty to ogle at. Vintage aeronaut, adventuring gear, chic Victorian couture and dystopic togs – it’s all in there.

Just take a look at these awesome examples:

It’s really cool isn’t it? XD

D&D: Shadowplague (Vol 1)

21 Jul , 2011,
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D&D Shadowplague (Vol 1) HC - Cover Art

I remember reading the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) comic books when I was a fresh faced, 1st level rube outta secondary school.

Every week, I’d wait at the comic shop for the next issue of Tempest Gate, and marvel at the fantastic adventures and mythical monsters the heroes faced in their quests to vanquish well, stuff.

Almost a full decade later, with D&D in it’s 4th incarnation, Wizards of the Coast revisits sequential storytelling with an original multi-part story charting the adventures of Fell’s Five, a merry band of mercenaries making their way in D&D’s latest canonical fantasy world.

It’s a tale full of action, adventure and intrigue, and of course, who can forget the dungeons and the dragons?

Published in conjunction with IDW, Shadowplague boasts an impressive level of writing and artwork.

John Rogers, no stranger to Dungeons & Dragons (and comic book writing in general) demonstrates not only a keen understanding of the tropes and conventions inherent to the genre, but actually plays it up to good effect.

Being waterlogged - Never a good experience for any adventurer.

Fighting a carrion crawler - just like back in the day when I was Level 3.

Everyone’s familiar with the greedy halfling rogue, the banter between stuffy dwarves and pommy elves, the predilection of tieflings (the new stripe of half-demon) towards angst, and the main character, well, he’s always got to be someone with a dark and sometimes tragic past, right? (but more of that later).

The dialogue’s pretty smart, and if you actually play the game, well, includes plenty of Easter eggs and game references.

In one scene, for example, you’ll be screaming about natural 20s, and in another, you’ll be wondering about critical failures on Insight checks. Lots of hot monster favorites show up too, so keep your eyes open.

As a whole, the story is tightly woven, and if you’re a D&D player, you’ll sense the currents of a campaign beneath the narrative.

What’s more, everything is brought to colorful life by the art of Andrea Di Vito, who worked on Crossgen’s The First and Scion (both titles with very clear fantasy leanings), as well as issues of Annihilation and World War Hulk.

The result is an exceptional work. On it’s own it’s strong fantasy fare with a great plot, plenty of droolworthy covers and detailed panels for fantasy art lovers to salivate over. But if you’re a D&D geek, it just gets better.

Get your module on!

Encounter maps included.

This hardcover compilation comes with bonus content in the way of pre-written encounters and modules based off the characters’ adventures in the story.

What’s more, they’re the D&D equivalent of plug-and-play compliant. That is, you can insert them into your tabletop game with minimal fuss. How cool is that?

Check this one out. You won’t be disappointed.