Learning how to draw: Day 3

It is day 3 of my quest to learn to draw. Already, I am seeing results, but I’m still not entirely happy. I definitely need to continue practicing spheres and drawing guides, as I’m having trouble deciding where the nose and mouth go. I worked a bit this week on drawing a completed sphere with jaw line, and flat section where the side of the head would be. The top right drawing below is about the best I could muster. I will probably end up with another doodle session later today, but I plan on only posting daily updates. Perhaps I’ll renege on that, but that would simply mean more blog posts, which are never a bad thing.

Today’s drawings:

I’m also still having a bit of trouble with the guides and making a circle look like a proper sphere, but I’m hoping that will come with practice.

I am learning to draw!

For my entire life, I have walked around considering myself a non-artist. I just can’t draw. I have pictures in my head, and they seem realistic, but I have never been able to express those images on any medium, be it paper and pencil or digital. Yet, I’ve also always wanted to draw. I want to be able to draw realistic faces, heads, hands, etc. I want to be able to draw characters and bring them to life in environments in my gamedev hobbies. I would love to be able to draw a realistic portrait of someone’s face… I just have no idea how to get there. Every time I put pencil to paper, preschool quality work is all I am able to accomplish.

I recently had a long chat with a professional artist in the FlatRedBall chat room (https://gitter.im/vchelaru/FlatRedBall). He convinced me that realistic illustration is learnable through studying and practicing techniques. For the first time, I garnered a bit of hope that there might be a way to achieve my long time goal after all. I decided to really try to learn to draw, and he shared what he could to get me started.

I was directed towards a book by Andrew Loomis called Drawing the Head and Hands. I’ve decided that before work every morning, I’m going to spend 10-15 minutes drawing or going through the book at a pace I find enjoyable. The book is challenging, and I am an extremely poor artist with no technique or raw talent, so the going has been rough. I’ve only been at it for 2 days, though, so I’m trying to stay positive. In order to master any significantly advanced skill, I know that it takes around 10,000 hours of practice. At 10-15 minutes a day, I’ll be an expert artist in 192 years! Sweet… obviously I’m going to have to do it more and more. Right now, though, I’m just taking my time because I’m trying to establish a pattern of drawing consistently.

Here is the work I have completed over the past 2 days:

I have a long way to go, but I think I see bits of progress. I will post more updates when I can!

King Randall’s Party by Jesse Crafts-Finch

A friend and fellow indie developer who is trying to make it on his own has launched a Kickstarter campaign for his game, King Randall’s Party. King Randall’s Party is a mash-up between a Minecraft and tower defense. I love the concept, and I backed his game.

He has been working on the game for a while now, and he’s using the FlatRedBall engine, while using some of the tile map technology that I developed. King Randall’s Party actually drove some of the requirements for what I wrote, so he helped me as well.

Please back his project for whatever you can. I know this blog is not high traffic or anything, but I hope it reaches some people at least!

Experiment: Switching from Chrome to IE10

A long time ago, I was a Linux enthusiast. I grew up in a time where all the cool geeks hated Microsoft, but we didn’t really know why. So, we looked to Linux to save us from the evil corporation, and we installed Linux distributions on our extra hardware or dual booted it. We lived in shell accounts and command lines and secretly dreamed of graphics. At some point in my life, probably when XNA came out, I changed my viewpoints. Now, most people would label me a Microsoft “fanboy”, but I am not convinced that is the case. Closer to the truth is the fact that Google has been scaring me for some time with how much data they’re collecting, and they have been retiring tools left and right. I have been slowly moving all of my services to the Microsoft stack and it has meant a better experience so far. I switched from Gmail.com to Outlook.com a while back and love it, switched from Google.com to Bing.com and love it, and I barely used Google docs, but I find that the Skydrive document interface is a lot closer to office anyway! The one thing I still use for the majority of my web browsing has been Chrome. Until yesterday.

I made the switch! I got the patch! I went cold turkey! Whatever!

The worst of it is that I miss my Ctrl-K shortcut, but I have been dealing just fine. Favorite sync isn’t there yet, but there are ways to do it. If I find that I really do need it, I can always change my favorites to point to my Dropbox folder. It’s not a scary thing. It’s just a web browser, right?

Bust that cache!

<shamelessplug>I don’t know if I have shared this, but I work for Caesars Entertainment doing web development. Go make a hotel reservation and you’ll be using everything that my work has been for the last 2 years.</shamelessplug>

Anyway, as web development goes, the site is very javascript heavy, and we have some core functionality existing in a javascript file linked via a

<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript" src="blahblah.js"></script>

tag. Regardless of the specifics, certain browsers end up being a pain when it comes to caching. For instance, we make a change to blahblah.js, but the browser has an old version of it cached for speedy loading and it ends up not picking up the change. It takes some time for the browser to get around to updating, and every browser is different, so I did some searching.

I found a site (http://davidwalsh.name/prevent-cache) which basically says to do this:

<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript" src="blahblah.js?(insert some dynamic number based on current time here)"></script>

This effectively makes the browser see a new reference for the javascript file every time it loads the page… not completely ideal for all situations. Namely, browser cache can be a very helpful thing to improve site performance… we like browser cache, but we need to make it work for us and not against us.

The simple solution is:

<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript" src="blahblah.js?(insert static version # here)"></script>

The version # is actually loaded via a web.config file, but that’s neither here nor there… what is important is that every time we want the browser to reload the cached js file, we simply increment that version # and the browser doesn’t have that src reference cached, so it has to download it.

Cache busted!