Browsing the archives for the Art category

Guild Wars Nightfall: Dervish Dolls

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Art, Games, Guild Wars

With the Nightfall preview event going on since yesterday, I had some time to jump in the game and take a look at the new content. Aside from downloading a huge amount of content for the new release, more than I’ve ever downloaded previously, the first thing I did when I jumped in the game was to take a look at the new character appearances.

Both previous Guild Wars have had some fantastic options for making really attractive characters, so I was eager to see Nightfall’s expansion of these options. I’ve taken about 100 or so screenshots thus far so it’s going to take me awhile to upload all of my pictures. Expect some updates to this post.

Naturally one of the first classes I looked at was the Dervish:

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This hairstyle doesn’t look like much from the front…

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But the side is more promising…

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…the long hair in the back is extremely beautiful. The jewelry used to keep the hair in the tail like that is simple but functional and attractive.

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This one, again, is fairly plain face-on…

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But the ponytail here is very nice, although it could use a little more volume to it.

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This is one of the more noticeable hair styles in the character creation process, as it seems to be one of the few Dervish styles that isn’t a pulled-back hairstyle. It’s nice, but not excellent.

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The layering effects seen from the sides offer a nice sense of volume, although there are some angles where you view the hair polygons edge-on and it spoils the effect.

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However, I think the back kind of looks bland and flat. A little bit more attention could have been paid to making it look distinctive in the back as well.

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The above style is probably my favorite of the bunch, combining the classy look of a stylized bun with the short off-the-shoulder tail to add a bit of uniqueness to it.

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Not a big fan of dreadlocks.

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This is a bland style, in my opinion, but I’m sure there are people that like it.

Below I have a series showing off the browsing windows for hair styles, hair colors, and face styles for Dervishes.

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Personally, a few more hairstyles would be appreciated. Although I must say, all of the Nightfall hairstyles, even the ones I don’t like aesthetically, are typically much better executed than any of the Prophecies hairstyles. Lots of long hair and voluminous hair … Most of the Prophecies styles are closely-cropped or buns. I do feel like having a “bald” option is essentially a cop-out as a style, though.

The colors are fine, but I would like more options with regard to colors. I feel like every character class should have the same color options, perhaps a total of about 16 or more. Restricting hair colors to professions doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

The faces are alright — My main problem is the latter four all have inhuman grey-white-blue eyes. Other than slight variations in eyebrow arches and eye colors, none of them are all that distinctive from each other, though. I think there should be a few more options available for faces, even if it’s just an existing face with palette shifted eyes.

Other classes next…

Clarity

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Art

ZhangZiyi1

A rare beauty in the North…

ZhangZiyi2

ZhangZiyi3

She’s the finest lady on earth.

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A glance from her, the whole city goes down.

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A second glance leaves the nation in ruins.

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There exists no city or nation

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That has been more cherished

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Than a beauty like this.

Link Roundup

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Art, Miscellaneous, Music

I’ve had a few things sitting around here for awhile so I may as well get rid of them in one fell swoop:

  • I was recently linked by a friend to this publicly available release of techno-industrial music by an Unreal community musician known as Zynthetic. A bit harsh for my tastes but pretty nice stuff, and free.
  • On a similar note I ran across this music by another Unreal community member, Toxeen, awhile ago. Nice stuff, rich sound and consistent with the work of Alexander Brandon and Michiel Van Den Bos without being derivative.
  • This link was relayed to me from the Epic Community forums. It’s a collection of all of the tracks from Unreal and Unreal Tournament. When I saw that I immediately grabbed all the tracks with Flashget. Run, Course, Foregone… They’re all good.

Earlier this week I ran across this article which looks at IMDB’s worst rated movies of all time and wonders: Will 2006 become known as the worst movie year of all time? Is it possible that the Wayans’ 2006 movie Little Man can outdo their smash [no-hit] work in White Chicks?

Although the Wayans must undoubtedly must make some of the worst movies, nobody can take a well-loved franchise and gut it of everything anyone loves like Uwe Boll. The article expresses a bit of incredulity that 2006 could be the worst year ever when Uwe doesn’t even have a film coming out this year. But wait, didn’t I see a trailer… Oh, I suppose it’s not one of Uwe’s projects, but that other guy.

I’m going to have to contradict the article here though: I certainly did see one of Uwe Boll’s movies this year. In fact, it’s Uwe Bolls best film ever.

On a serious note, I was recently made aware of Darren Aronofsky’s new film, The Fountain. I didn’t care that much for his Requiem for a Dream, but I thought Pi was excellent, and this new film, if hype is to be believed, looks like a new 2001.

Tools that Change Your Life: FlashGet

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Art, Technology

As you may have noticed I am always on the lookout for art to use in RPGs. Beyond that, I’m always on the lookout for art that I enjoy in general. I have a folder on my harddrive containing over 3GBs of images solely for RPGs, and that is only a single folder of many that I have for categorizing artwork I’ve collected on my computer.

I probably ought to be ashamed to admit that the majority of this I’ve downloaded by hand — Browsing through galleries, looking at images and saving the ones I like. Only recently have I started using a download manager, and I’m amazed at how much easier it is to handle downloading large batches of files. I did a little research before I decided upon a download manager and Flashget (with its FireFox plugin, Flashgot) was the most highly recommended of all of them. As I was pleased to learn the program was made freely available in 2006 and is no longer ad-supported.

I downloaded the program, it seemed a bit complex but I figured I’d grow into it. I don’t really understand their format for Regular Expressions, which seems to only allow you to use wildcards to represent a single character. This seems pretty counter-intuitive, as if I’m downloading images from “/images/” on some server and I’m looking to download everything in that folder, chances are I’m not going to know how many characters are in filename. Instead of being able to configure the program to download /images/*.jpg, it seems like I’d have to find another way to download the contents of the image directory.

Not ideal, but fair enough. I first gave it a try with my efforts to download collections of tarot cards. It was a stunning failure. The website in question, Multiply.com, seems to require a certain “code” to display the original (full-size) image. I could access the thumbnails easily enough, but since each of the original images was located in a directory similar to “/orig/##_NameofCard.jpg?id=SequenceofNumbersandLetters” and since I am not sure how to use Flashgot’s seemingly hamstrung implementation of regular expressions, the task of setting up the program to download any files fitting the paradigm of “/orig/*.jpg?id=*” was put to a complete stop. After trying various different approaches over the course of about 3 days I finally gave up and decided to download my favorite five sets manually.

After that one failure I tried a different challenge for FlashGet, one that I suspected would be easier. Photo-storage sites most likely actively try to discourage downloading from albums. What about a more traditional website-with-artwork site? Could I manage to get FlashGet to work there?

The quarry was Wizards.com, in particular their publicly-available digitized collections of artwork from D&D books. I am not a huge fan of the D&D 3.X artwork style, but let’s face it: You’re rarely going to get such a large and versatile collection of artwork. It’s too big to pass up. But downloading each image individually, especially when I don’t care about a lot of the images, is just too much to do by hand. I gave FlashGot a shot at it… With excellent results. Within about half an hour of off-and-on downloading while browsing other sites and coding I’d collected all of the artwork from all books Wizards has published in 2006, and with only a minimal of effort also collected the artwork for everything else up to 2001.

Simple, easy. Finally, after years of coveting, I have the entire collection of artwork. Now to put FlashGot to use elsewhere…

Tarot Card Collection

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Art, Culture

From the files of not-BibliOdyssey I came across this particularly neat gallery of Tarot card images.

Some samples.

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I’ve been wanting to make my own custom deck of cards for awhile now. The major impediment, of course, is how to get images I’ve made or collected onto a set of typical playing cards. Beyond that, though, it seems like this is a great resource for the art itself, whether for inspiration or to use exactly.

BibliOdyssey

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Art, Personal

BibliOdyssey1

I’ve come across this site before but it’s recently come to my attention again with this series of wonderful depictions of celestial phenomena.

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Last time I was at this site I thought it was an interesting but overall not a great resource — The images are fantastic but the resolutions are fairly small to use them as wallpapers or otherwise. Maybe I’ll give it another shot, though.

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There’s a great series of images from Norse Edda and another series of pseudo-mystic-Gnostic images that are amazing in their own right but could also be used for visualizations or handouts for my gaming groups.

Celestial Images

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Art, Personal, RPGs

I was browsing PopURLs.com today, as I usually do, and came across a link today to some high quality versions of constellation artwork. The images in this post come from Alexander Jamieson’s Celestial Atlas, and the site which hosts it also hosts some other quality artwork of a similar style.

In general I really love the woodcut artwork in old books; There’s just something extremely classy about the artwork — It has some medieval sensibilities in its typical flattening of perspective, but has renaissance figures and stylization. Even mediocre artwork of this type has a complexity and craftsmanship that I find intriguing. Usually the quality of images of this sort that you can find on the internet are absolutely garbage, so the nice resolutions on these make them particularly good finds.

Aside from my aesthetic interest, it doesn’t hurt that I’m always on the lookout for artwork for material for running RolePlaying games– I’ve been thinking of trying to run a Mage: The Awakening campaign lately and this sort of imagery is perfect for evoking the sensibility of the Illuminati, the Masons, and other occult groups. My own campaign setting has a degree of this as well, although the constellations would have to be renamed (at the very least) to fit in with the constellations of the setting. A mite obsessive? Well, yes. But then unfortunately I don’t know how to make amazing looking artwork in this style either.

Literary Fiction

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Art, Culture, Literature

Over at 2Blowhards, Michael Blowhard has a post up on the phenomenon of “Literary Fiction.” Literary Fiction and its general “emptiness” is a common theme at 2Blowhards, and the post is just one of many in a more extended conversation about it.

Quoth Michael:

… despite its intending-to-awe name — “literary fiction” represents nothing more than another shelf in your local bookstore’s Fiction section. It’s one menu option among many, and nothing more.

This is a pretty common but very important realization. It’s rare for me to encounter people outside of my close circle who really enjoy reading frequently — But when I do it’s even rarer to find someone who sees through the cloud of marketing to realize the fiction world’s tastemakers are just glorified advertisers, selling books in a genre whose sole purpose is to be exclusive club. If you’re the right sort of person with the right aesthetic sensibilities, the right opinions, and the right connections you too could join the club.

More Michael:

There’s a problem with thinking of lit fic as a legitimate genre. It’s this: Real fiction-genres arise out of something alive. They’re the result of an informal collaboration between audiences, publishers, and writers. They’re based in live tastes, live markets, live creative urges, and live audience enthusiasm.

They arise semi-naturally, in a word. “Literary fiction” has no such organic basis. It’s a willed creation, one that has been given form from the intellect on down. Its audience is largely made up of students, educated people who attend creative writing classes themselves, and people who are still young and credulous enough to read what the magazines tell them is important. … Lit fic is an artificial world, without any vitality or pulse of its own, and in need of ever-renewed artificial respiration. Which is also to say that it’s constantly on the verge of collapse and annihilation.

There’s some insightful comments to the post itself. A commenter named BTM has this to add:

Now you bookish types know what we painters have had to deal with for the last 100 years. Don’t think for a minute that this artificial distinction will disappear. On the contrary, it will only grow, and the “highbrow” types will continue to heap praise, major prizes, and media coverage on those “serious” writers, at the expense of their far more talented, readable, prolific, and “middle-to-low brow” peers.

I find it a fascinating, and apt, parallel to draw. It goes to show that the same sort of rot that has set in the art world has pervaded literature as well. BTM writes another comment on how the status quo came to be:

A lot of it revolves around money. In the painting world, there is a system of influential galleries, critics, high money collectors and museums, government-funded academics, and so on. Since painting really isn’t popular anymore, public input doesn’t act as a corrective influence. So the insiders tend to pick out who they want to become a big shot, buy the early work, rave it up, award the new big shot prizes, and then sell the early work later for big money. Its really kind of corrupt. Of course, there is always a market for the smaller collectors who really love stuff. But the art market is manipulated to a degree by insiders, like any other. And they use the same modern advertising techniques to get money out of moneyed, but ignorant collectors-the appeal to celebrity, obsessive concern with the “new and improved”, the appeal to supposed “authority”, etc. I don’t think its a coincidence that so-called “modern” art sprang up at around the same time the Industrial Revolution was taking off. Modern advertising was developed to distinguish and sell the surplus goods that were available from mass production. Now the cultural world has the same problem of tons of product, with relatively fewer buyers.

The real question is how to solve this issue. How can it be that we’ve let a country club of self-promoters become the premier cultural authorities for art and literature, and how can we fix it? I’m hoping the internet’s worldwide advertisement will serve as the advertising and distribution mechanism for artists of all stripes, but it strikes me that we’ll never rid ourselves of this art-elite subculture, even if they decline in relevance even further than they already have.

Intentionalist Wars

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Art, Culture, Literature, Politics

For awhile now I’ve been meaning to write about Jeff Goldstein’s dustup with Thersites.

The whole thing started with Jeff’s online publication of an academic paper he wrote. Apparently Thersites is a professor, and he takes offense to Jeff’s insistence on the intention of the author being privileged when interpreting the author’s work. The post series (on Jeff’s site) is here, here, here, here, here, and here. I’m pretty much in agreement with intentionalism as the only coherent way to read a text. Simultaneously, I don’t find intentionalism terribly fulfilling as an interpretive philosophy — It’s a starting point, not an ending point.

This is probably not terribly interesting or engaging unless you’ve been following this issue yourself. Unfortunately I can’t really do justice to the subject matter in short, so it boils down to turning this into a drama between talking heads. The shocking climax of this sordid tale is that things eventually ballooned into Thersites deleting his blog. It’s not often that you see an opponent in an intellectual debate so thoroughly destroyed that he completely abandons his online persona and blog.

Some more thoughts of mine below the fold…

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