Category Archives: Inspiration

Inspiration: Dope Characters

Here’s some random cool characters I found in my “Art Resources & Ref” folder when digging around last night. I’m not sure about who owns the images or where they are picked from (mostly floating around the web), but I do not own any copyrights for the following content. If you know where these images come from, please let me know : )

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For more images like these, hit follow on the Tumblr of Deaux Ex: Human Revolution’s art director Jonathan Jacques-Belletête. He posts some very nice things now and then. No zombies, post-apocalypse or high-fantasy stuff : D Refreshing!

Summer Adventures

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A fresh page from my sketch book! I’ve now filled 1/3 of it. Attended the weekly sketch jam tonight, at Starbucks here in Malmö. It’s pretty much the only time i get to speak IRL to fellow artsy people about art, painting and drawing. Always looking forward to the meetups! This time we were around 15 peeps. Last week only three of us could make it. But it’s always fun to hang out with the other guys n’ gals. Some of them are game developers, so I get to rant about games and game making while being there. I guess you could say it’s my vent, haha!

As you can tell I’m still doing anatomy studies of the upper body, with a focus on the arms. Gonna pick the human body apart, piece by piece, and so far I’m learning plenty! Taking my time, not rushing trough the body this time. I think studying the bodies if real, live athletes in photos is helping a lot. I wasn’t really that motivated when looking at those dead anatomy charts. Hopefully this will help me create better life drawings when the life drawing classes start again this fall.

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When I’m not drawing or working I’m out in the sun, trying to find an adventure or two. The past days I’ve been to both Denmark and Germany. In Denmark I slept in a small cottage, listening to the soft summer rain falling on the roof, in the middle of the night. Super cozy!

When you live in Malmö it’s very convenient to just catch a train and go across the big bridge to Denmark, or to team up with someone who have a car and hit the road to southern Europe. When I was living on the Åland Islands you were pretty much stuck there and needed to plan ahead because with the ferries leaving the island, if you wanted to go places. From my front door I got ~20 mins to Copenhagen airport, one of the biggest airports in Europe! Sweet!

Investing Time vs Spending Time

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What do you choose to spend your time and energy on? Or do you invest time and energy in something? There is a big difference in spending and investing. I’ve written about this topic a few times before, but this is something close to my heart for several reasons.

Multitasking is something I’ve tried to cut out of my life over the past months. Running my own business has really made me aware of how important it is to be able to make out what’s top priority, and to act on that. It’s hard to stop multitasking after years of abusing my brain with multitasking, but fact is that the brain of an adult human is better suited for solving one problem at a time, even if it might feel better to work on a lot of things at the same time. I find myself to be quite addicted to information. My brain craves information all the time. It wants to read, to look, to talk, to listen, to experience, to feel. From the moment I get out of bed to the second I try to sleep. On one hand I guess this is a side-product of living in the digital age where all of your friends (and foes) are accessible at your fingertips, where you can read news updates all around the clock, or watch clips at Youtube for hours to no end. The amount of information surrounding me each day is probably more than an average person experienced during a lifetime just four generations prior to me. The concept of “spare time” is a quite new invention. If I look back just four generations my relatives almost didn’t have any “spare time”. They worked from before the dawn to long after sunset. They were kept busy all the time, and the only time you didn’t to anything productive was when you were sick or dead. True story, bro. My elder relatives often knit when they watch TV, it’s one way of combining “doing something productive” with having “spare time”.

But just because information is out there, or surrounding us, it doesn’t mean we should go with it. I like that famous sentence from Fight Club: the things you own end up owning you. The same thing can be said about your habits, what you choose to consume ends up becoming a part of you, consuming you. If you invest your time and energy in something constructive, it will come back to you in one way or another. This is not easy by any means. It’s super difficult. I try to think about the human brain as a laser. It works best when you focus on one thing for a longer time. If you constantly shift your focus, jumping between ideas and task you won’t get into flow or actually have the time to reflect and refine upon your process and work. Some people are better at concentrating at one thing at a time, shutting out everything else.

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Here’s some stuff I’ve done lately to help me focus on getting things done here and now:

– Investing in a great calender. Writing down important times and notes saves me from so much stress. I can look at my calender and get an overview of my week in seconds. Stress kills your focus and creativity. I try to eliminate stress whenever I can.

– Using time-tracking software like Toggl to track my time when I’m working.

– Treat my mail inbox like a to-do list more than an actual inbox.

– Print out the articles I want to read, turn off my computer while I’m reading.

– Leaving my phone at home whenever I can, unless I expect a very important call.

– Keeping a very clean desk, both IRL and on my computer. Crap and dirt distracts me from working.

– Get rid of unnecessary material items.  If I don’t need it I give it away or throw it out. I only buy things I really need or want. I try to own as few things as possible and rent stuff if it’s a viable option. Right now I don’t have any single material item I could not afford to lose. I have backups of all my digital stuff and insurances for other important things. I don’t have to think about stuff, I can focus on other things in life.

– I’m always trying to make conscious and informed decisions about my priorities. What should I really be spending time on right now?

– Some years ago I began to think about people roughly as drainers or sources. Some people make you feel good, they give you energy and let you invest energy in them in a constructive way. Others to nothing but drain you of energy, no matter what you do you always feel bad after meeting them. I try to avoid people who do not give me energy or that only are negative. I hide them on Facebook. I don’t start following them on Twitter. If spend all your time on the wrong people, you won’t be open to the opportunities and adventures positive people bring into your life.

– I don’t bring my iPhone to the bedroom. I sleep way much better! When I go to the gym I put my phone in flight mode. The time I spend at the gym is sacred to me, it’s one of the core pillars of my health, both physically and mentally.

– I have removed all bookmarks in my browser showing me pointless blogs or hateful web pages I used to visit just to argue with stupid people. I rarely read articles about topics that makes me angry anymore. I don’t have the time or the energy to. If I pick a fight it should be worth it.

– I try to eat clean and healthy. And when I chose to eat junk it’s a conscious decision. Just like you become what you think, you become what you eat. A healthy body helps me concentrate on what’s good in life.

This may sound harsh, but it’s just my way of focusing on what’s important on life. Doing these things helps me see what’s important, and to live here and now. I want to create more things than I consume, I want to invest energy ,not spend it mindlessly. I want to add value to my own life and to the life of whose I care about for real (and indulge in a Game of Thrones marathon every now and then – it’s not about being “perfect”, it’s about choices, what you choose to do with your time).

Letter From The Past

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Hey look at that! I got a reply on my message in a bottle that I threw in the sea outside Finland almost 10 years ago! How amazing! The old man who found the letter lives not too far away from where I threw it in the ocean, and he was kind enough to send me his own letter and address, and also included a map pointing out where exactly he discovered the bottle!

The letter I put in my bottle was written the same summer I was done with primary school and about to start studying at a gymnasium in Finland. I had kinda lost my two best friends and was a bit uncertain and worried about starting a new school with no friends. What I din’t know 10 years ago was that I would soon meet the most awesome gang of girls this very summer in 2004, and I would make plenty of new friends in my new school. Ten years ago I had three super nice years at this gymnasium ahead of me, but I just did not know it yet…!

The letter is written using pretty poor English. Ten years ago if you had asked me, I would never ever in my wildest dreams believe that I would be able to stand in-front of a live stream at the Sony HQ in Sweden and hold a lecture in English about game development (which I did two weeks ago). The letter also contains a proud drawing of my dog, Nicki. Ten years ago I would not know that Nicki would die a tragic death in five years.

Ten years ago I had no idea that I would move to Sweden and study video games at University, three years after this letter was thrown into the sea. I had no idea I would meet super inspiring developers, start working in the video game industry and fly to Monaco in private jets with Mojang.

Ten years ago I wrote a letter, put it in a bottle and threw it out to sea. That letter contained some U2 lyrics that I felt really fitted how I felt about life back then; a bit scared, excited and no idea what the future would bring. Interesting enough those lyrics still feel relevant to me now:

And I have no compass
And I have no map
And I have no reasons
No reasons to get back

And I have no religion
And I don’t know what’s what
And I don’t know the limit
The limit of what we’ve got

Layer Masks

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I got an epiphany about layer masks in Photoshop yesterday when I helped my family find out and try new colors for their house. Feels good to finally know how they work. I knew about the CTRL click on layers, but this about layer masks…It changes everything! I played around today for a few minutes and just slapped on some colors to this drawing from Tuesday, trying stuff out with the masks and layer modes. Totally fun! Here’s my favorite suggestion for how my family should paint their house by the way. I don’t understand why they didn’t go for it?

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On another note I found this artist lately who makes totally dope stuff; James Zapata. His stuff is both well rendered, excites my fantasy, tells a story and overall just totally blows my mind. I might not quite like his character design where the female characters seems to have forgotten their pants or have the typical boob window included in their armor. But anyways, check out some of his images:

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All images are property of James Zapata. His gallery can be found over here. Check it out!

Color Pencils

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Yesterday I took a break in all my other stuff and headed down to the artist’s store in my hoods, got myself some more colored pencils to play with. I had like four different colors from before, and felt like expanding my collection with a couple more. The ones I’m using are called Koh-I-Noor POLYCOLOR. They have rich coloring that sticks to the paper, and they don’t seem to break as easily as my other coloring pencils.

Right now I seem to be in that state of mind when my subconscious have a lot to think about and just keeps on getting idea after idea around the clock. I need to keep a notepad next to my bed so I’m able to write down all my ideas and images that suddenly pop into my head!

Yesterday I also went to my gym for some exercise, finally doing some proper testing of my muscles. I have had this gym routine where I pick and choose from a dozen exercises depending on what I feel like that particular day. The thing is, if I don’t have it all on paper it’s very hard to remember how much you managed to perform last time, so making progress is harder when you don’t challenge yourself enough. Since my body finally seems to have battled down the never ending flu (that lasted for like three months) I started a new workout routine yesterday and wrote down all my results on my new exercise paper. Last time I did something like this, tracked my exercise and progress on paper, I quickly got into really good shape. Let’s hope it works again!

Inspiration: XpRnz Art

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Image by XpRnz, made with oils. Head over to his sketch book for more amazing art! Click HERE.

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Lovely shading by XpRnz! Gonna try and learn how to do this!

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Digital environment concept art by XpRnz.

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Another awesome study by XpRnz < 3

Found this sweet sketch book by the user called XpRnz. Totally dig his style! Sometimes you come across people who paint or draw in a way you wish you could. I guess is one of those times!

I haven’t been drawing that much past weeks. Done some studies, but mostly a lot of thinking about art and what is my purpose in all of this, if any. It feels a bit like going to the gym and get a fit body that you then never use outside of the gym (which is funny cuz that’s also something I’m doing haha!). Maybe everything don’t need to have a super clear goal to it all the time. Sometimes the pieces just may fit together at some point in the future, when you least expect it?

Winter

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Malmö’s coast with a view over the majestic Öresund’s bridge. Sunny days you can see Denmark on the other side.

Winter is coming here in Sweden. The days are much shorter and the sun sets in early afternoon. Darkness is on its way now. I can’t say winter is my favorite time of the year, but at least I’m in the “Florida of Sweden” now; Skåne. It’s a tremendous difference in weather and nature, compared to the freezing winter I’ve spent up North, on Åland. Some years we had snow from October to April. Tons and tons of it, sometimes -25°C when walking to school. So cold the trees could crack. Here in Skåne and Malmö the weather is much warmer and we still haven’t got any snow. Winter sucks because you can’t go swimming and surfing. What’s nice with winter is that you can spend more time indoors with your friends and family. I really miss my family in Finland, really looking forward to spend Christmas with them this year! The Christmas traditions differ a bit between Finland and Sweden. In Finland we celebrate “mini Christmas” on the last Saturday before December, giving each other one small gift and bringing in a mini Christmas tree on that day.

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Hired a cabin in the woods with my friends last month, played board games and went for walks in the rain. Made a fire, cooked dinner and just chilled out. Was super nice!

I honestly feel happy about leaving 2013 behind me and head for new adventures in 2014. This year has been both very fun and exciting, but also very, very challenging and a bit draining. I had the constant headaches cuz of my eyes going bad, the tumor investigation and made the difficult decision to quit and awesome job at Paradox. I went without a job for three months and that kinda pushed me into a bad spiral of stress and having nothing to do, just idling in some kind of waiting room, nor sure about where my life was heading. I still battle some of those feelings when I’m home for a day or two with a cold. I traveled a lot on my own during this time. I visited Norway and went to the movies all by myself. I spent time alone in Finland, in the town where I grew up, and I traveled back to Stockholm all by myself to see some friends, just drifting around the city when they were working. I have spent maybe too much time thinking about stuff this year. Having the police raid my block a couple of times and drunk guys threatening to punch the shit out of me. This have made me have some difficulties with sleep, but helpfully I can get some professional help with this. I’m not scared of the dark anymore, but I do wake up and prepare to fight for my life if I even hear the smallest sound. It’s not like I’m afraid, but I expect the worst at all times. That people will attack me physically or something.

I had some very nice moments this year as well. I moved back to the city I feel is my home now; Malmö. I’ve got a new apartment . Like one of those really, really nice ones I still can’t believe is mine! I went to Monaco with my friends at Mojang. Cruising the riviera of France in a yacht, sitting in a swimming pool with a glass of champagne, flying helicopters and private jets. Partying and dancing on the chairs at some club, talking to Röyksopp. It was nice! I went surfing in Skåne for a week. Remember that one moment I sat on my surf board, feet dangling in the cold water, soft summer rain on my face. Body exhausted from three hours of fighting with the winds. Just me, the rain and the Ocean. Hearing the sound of the waves rocking my board. Damn I miss it. Friends that came all the way to Åland to visit me for some days, climbing to the top of a cherry tree, eating all the cherries I wanted. Kayak hiking in the Finish archipelago and sea weed fights with my cousin and best friends. 2013 had a lot of awesome moments as well. Late night parties on the first of May with the gang from my days at University. A warm summer day in June at the lake with my friend Anders.

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Finally got my batch of protein powder I ordered a while ago. Since I moved to Malmö I have had much more time to exercise. I love hanging out at the gym. Many of my best ideas ever have come to me while lifting heavy stuff there. Unfortunately I’ve had like 8 colds/flues during 2013 which has made exercising difficult. 

Malmö Sketch Jam

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Hi there! I’ve attended the weekly Malmö sketch jam tonight, and it was awesome! When I got home I decided to close down my thread (or at least abandon it and make one last post) on CA. I don’t feel like that place is where I wanna be, or that it’s affecting me in a good way whatsoever. It just feels hollow and elitistic. I don’t wanna spend any time there when I have the opportunity to hang out at sketch jams IRL or attend the croquis class every week. So FUCK THAT SHIT, yeah!

Also, work is nice atm. I’ve been on this game studio for almost three months now, and I’ve finally starting to feel like things are not as chaotic as when you start a new job. I really like my team and our project, and I can’t wait until I can tell you about it ^_^/

The Game That Made Me Cry

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This post contains spoilers for the video game Journey.

It’s interesting. Ever since I started to make games, I seem to have less and less will and time to actually play games. I heard that as you know all the smoke and mirrors behind creating a game, you easily become bored while playing a game, or you start to pick it apart, analyzing it piece by piece, instead of just relaxing and letting yourself become immersed by the game itself. I guess you lose your childlike curiosity in a way, you expect more from a game when you know how much hard work that goes into making it. You build your own presumptions on how games should work, and it’s easy to say “I saw this trick a million times before”.

With all this in mind I started to play Journey at work yesterday. I borrowed our gaming room at Tarsier and turned down the lights, thinking I would give it 30 minutes or something, before I had to run home and get to my drawing lesson.

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Two hours later I finished the game and sat staring at the white screen in front of me, moved in a way no video game has ever moved me before. I quickly wiped away my tears and hoped no one had seen them. I guess you can’t explain a video game in words, just as little as you can explain architecture with a dance, or a painting with music.

For two hours I had been the visitor in a strange world, full of wonders. A place I didn’t understand, but that accepted me as a temporary tourist. I had met a complete stranger in the desert, and together we had traveled this world without a word. The game contains no text or voice, and you can’t chat with the random player that you are paired with. When my co-op partner showed up I was suspicious at first, but as the game progressed she helped me, showed me how to play, how to fly and guided me in the blizzard. I had the most emotional moment in my gaming life together with a complete stranger. And I guess that’s really the reason it impacted me so much. When we don’t have all the facts or can’t get the whole picture we project our own feelings and story onto it. To me the other player really was another traveler in Journey, because there was nothing there to break the immersion. Nothing like a voice over Skype screaming LOL or a chat log full of derp. She truly was a creature in this hot and sun-drenched world, not another human.

There was only us, trying to find our way trough the desert, climbing up the elusive mountain, struggling in the freezing blizzard. Together.

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As we entered the bright light together I stood still for a while, turned around and looked back at this strange world, my anonymous co-player pushing into the light before me. I instinctively knew we had probably reached the end of our journey and the game. Together we had experienced this strange and amazing world, without words traveling, playing and dancing. I knew that it would never be the same again. I could always play this game again, but you only get one chance to experience something for the first time. And as humans we have a tendency to compare all experiences of something to that very special first one. I don’t want to do that. I want my experience with Journey to be this one and only one. When I started playing a video game a late afternoon having no expectations, and ending up with strange tears in my eyes, almost forgetting about my drawing lesson, truly immersed for the first time in years. I want that impression to be what I took away from playing Journey.

I had almost forgot video games are able to craft something like this. Something that moves you this much. That makes you forget about the real world. That brings long forgotten memories to life and lets you for a few hours step into a completely different time and space.

If someone ever tells me video games can’t be art I will punch them in the face (then I’ll make them play Journey).