Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I AM ALIVE: Mild Confession

Here's what happened.

Kaitlin and I make goals for the new year and I take them ridiculously seriously. I come up with a strict and insane plan for what I want and set a couple goals to do that. I can't do more than 3 or 4 simple goals because my minimalist mind is immediately overwhelmed and I roll and weep in a puddle of tears, but I try to make those few goals goodins.

The moment Steam told me that Dragon's Dogma was available for pre-purchase on PC back in November, I bought it and anxiously awaited mid-January for its release. Videogames and I have a tumultuous history and for the last few years I've been extremely cautious with them so I can focus on art and more important things, but it's a game I knew a lot about and was keenly interested in experiencing.

I made an exception and put "Play Dragon's Dogma" on my list of goals for 2016 so I wouldn't feel guilty for gluttonously gorging my brains out on it. Kaitlin sagely pointed out that such a goal probably wouldn't stretch me too much and might actually be counter-productive, but allowed me to leave it on my list.

Dragon's Dogma came out and I've played a bit too much since then.

I realized over the weekend that I had wasted some serious time on something pretty trivial. With technology there to support us in everything we do, it's fascinating that we insist on using it to be lazy blobs. I haven't finished the game and I'd really like to, so I'll allow myself to play for a couple hours on Saturday mornings while Kaitlin sleeps in, since taking a break every once in awhile is important. But that's all.

It's interesting to see how a few weeks without strenuous exercise of my art muscles makes me cranky and unhappy. The moral of the story? Do more art? I don't know.

Here's a lunch doodle:

Then some recent sketchbook stuff.

Credit: I did a study on this by Sergio Toppi on this top one.

Credit: Evan Richards (sometimes NSFW) for his study of the cinematography of Birdman, which looks cool but I've never seen.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Special Anniversary Post: 3rd Year - Portfolio Site Is Live!

Whoa, it's hard to think that this blog has been part of my life for 3 years now. It's gone through several changes in that time, most notably the amount of posts per day/week/month. I can only hope the slightly different approach to posting has led to an increase in quality overall. Since I haven't posted in awhile, I'll treat this as a normal blog post and then proceed with the standard yearly review. 

First and foremost, I have to tell you the secret I've been whispering about for the last few posts. I decided to stop stalling and launch my portfolio site. I've been working on this for several months and will be switching the current images for more appropriate finished compositions as they happen, but I think it's time to stop messing around and let it go live! Click here to visit zachheckert.com.
Some of these are older pieces that will be getting some attention since I've learned some things since they were started. Those will be swapped out as they're improved upon. I have other works in progress that I'm trying to finish up. I've had kind of a rough start on doing artwork this year, despite my new year's resolutions. There should also be an increase in 3D work soon, too. I'll still post here, but I'll try to collect the best stuff I have over there.

I'm too lazy to go back and see if I talked about it last post, but my aunt and uncle gave me a card to Utrecht for Christmas. I bought some fancy Polychromos pencils (y'know, I'm thinking I talked about this last post after all, but just humor me) and a Moleskine notebook. They make some good drawings, but a downside I've found is that since it's not spiral-bound, it's difficult to scan stuff. I draw all over the page and am constantly getting into the spine, making that part horrible to scan. I really like the materials it's made of, but it's a bit too soon to tell if it will fall apart before I finish it like the cheap ones I normally draw on. Here's a handful of stuff from the first half or so.

This first one? There's a guy with that big gun that says C-42. I'm modeling that in 3D at the moment!
And the guy on the bottom with luscious hair is wayyyy stupid. What was I thinking and shame on me.

What the heck, this guy's stupid arm. It's even labeled "My stupid arm." What was I thinking and shame on me. Also, the guy on the furthest right only got into this image because I liked his hand.

My anatomy is disastrous. I've basically not been working from reference at all. It shows! The guy on the bottom left (who was also posted to Instagram) has noodle arms, and the guy above him has the opposite of noodle arms (big meaty meat arms). I don't know how it works. What was I thinking?! Shame on me!

I have no current issues with this one, except for the space scooter is facing to the right which I find irksome for some reason. I may become upset by these characters later.

That does it for recent stuff. Here's the year in review, with stats from last year in parentheses:

Total posts: 556 (510)
Total page views: 32,510 (24295)
Total comments: 1414 (1225)
Total followers: 30 (30) [Like last year, there's some weird numbers involved here. Google+ says I have 63 followers, but I don't think those people see or follow regularly.]
Total coolness improvement: 0%


I picked this because the faces looked good. They mostly even resembled the reference I was using, which I felt was a big step forward. Nice!


This one was competing against a sketchier sketch of the standard monster fare typically found on the blog. I picked this for diversity, to show that I'm capable of doing something more naturalistic. I also felt it showed growth over other faces I've attempted in the past.


I like the guy in the upper right. His face and hair are what earned this image the right to be shown here. The guy with 3 eyes is cool too, I guess. His body doesn't really make any sense, but if you don't look down that far you'll be a-okay.


I think that the armore is the reason I chose this one. I like it. I also like the fish chainsaw sword.


I chose this one because it was sorta-kinda-finished, even though some stuff needs work. That's fine. It's actually on a pile of stuff I need to improve.


This was another contested spot. I chose this because I really like the drawing. I feel like this character could go somewhere. His design is simple, but I'm into it!


This was the final for my figure drawing class last summer. I put this one in to show, once again, that I'm capable of doing something outside of monsters blowing each other into gibs.


This was a study from a film still. I like it because I only spent an hour and it was a definite improvement over the preceding study I did. I have fond memories of this one, even if it's not totally representative of the source material.


This one turned out pretty cool in general (in my opinion), but I like the guy with the ridiculously long arm and the sword and beard. His body is kind of funky but I feel like the musculature is believable-ish. I felt it showed progress over other stuff.


Some 3D. I like this mostly because of the arms, though perhaps not the hands. That might be the only reason I like it, actually. This one goes on the growing pile of  "Tune up and get it onto the portfolio site" stuff.


The hands on these characters were good. That's why this is here.


This one was picked because I like that I did it in an afternoon. It gives me hope that I can get stuff finished quickly. I'm hoping it means that there will be more, despite the relatively slow pace of January.

So there you have it. Another year, another dollar(s). I won't lie, this has been kind of a frustrating month. I've felt a bit slumpy and have lacked motivation. I've got some plans for how to reverse this, though, so you should hopefully be seeing nice junk soon. Thanks for coming to my blog and looking at the stuff I draw. Even though I only know a couple of you, it's cool that you can all come and visit. Hopefully all this posting is helping you in some way, too.

 To improvement. 2016 will be a good'n.

See you next time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

School Has Begun, Small Update, &c.

Hi, everyone! I'm a busy boy! School started, I've been sick and not going to class, and work has been fine. Christmas was great, and, uh, I can't remember the things I was going to mention. Oh yeah, here's something I learned Monday. There were hiccups in my school schedule and I'll be graduating with my bachelor's degree in Gaming and Animation in Spring 2018, a year later than I planned. That will mean that it took just shy of 8 years to get a bachelor's degree. I think that whole four year thing is a bit of a myth, unless you just bang your head against whatever you knew you wanted to be when you grew up when you were 17 years old and do 18 credits a semester.

Anyway, it is what it is! I'll try to be positive and make the most of it. Peradventure I may be an artistic power house prior to my graduation. Anyway, school is probably okay. I'm not sure since I've been sick and missed two classes because I was desperately trying to recover. I spoke with teacher (he mysteriously taught both classes I was absent from) and he just said to read the syllabus (which I diligently tried to do today but the classes don't apparently exist online yet). That's all, no more school talk in this post UNLESS YOU REMIND ME PLEASE DON'T

So! Some exiting stuff this post! Here are some sketches. These are from yesterday and today and maybe Monday, I can't quite recall through my feverish haze. Maybe they're from last month. And the two leftmost characters seem too similar. Whatever

And my current project! It's a demon I've built in 3D, based loosely on an idiotic little doodle I found completely hilarious at the time and knew, "I must model this!" but in reality it was kind of a weak reference. It's UV'd and ready to be painted! I'll probably get to work on during my breaks tomorrow. And if you think this is dumb, I included an earlier attempt I did last month for laughs (with facial geometry straight out of the late 90's) beneath. I may be posting less, as per this manifesto, but I've been working, honest!

Something else- My aunt and uncle gave me a gift card to Utrecht and I bought some really nice pencils (better than Prismacolor? Maybe. My pal Rod gave me one before and I used it until was a tiny nub) and a Moleskine sketchbook. Moleskine is all the rage, but when I can get as many pages for a third of price I'm hesitant. But I've always wanted 

Last thing- that secret thing I've been whispering about will be unleashed upon you all on the 28th of this month, which is this blog's 3rd anniversary. It's basically ready (I haven't worked on it much since my last mention of it) but I'm lollygagging around. 28th is the day, come heck or high water.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Few Things

Hi! It's been awhile, hasn't it? Finals are over, I passed all my classes (unless some horrible post-semester grading algorithm rears its head and destroys me), and I have a couple weeks to work on projects. 

You'll remember that last time I mentioned that updates here would be happening as I finished work in order to force myself to get stuff done. I can't say that I've necessarily used my time the most effectively since my last post (I'm currently playing about an hour of videogames per day on average, which is too much right now), but I've gotten some things to a state I'm calling "Done!"

Also, I'm working on another semi-secret thing that I hope to share with you next time. It blossomed out of a school assignment. That's odd in itself, as most of you know, since I despise school and have a hard time jumping through hoops and being a student. But that's just about ready to be seen. Keep an eye out for that.

Here's what I've done:

This is kind of my finished version of the guy from last time. Below that, an earlier draft can be seen for further comparison.

This next one is nice because of the speed it happened. I scribbled it out and then sat down and painted it in a couple hours. Most of the time when I try to finish stuff I hit walls. Maybe I just really liked the sketch (which I included below for reference). Kaitlin asked me what the deal was with his hand, and I guess I didn't flesh it out too much. He has a thumb, but the rest of his hand is just for clobbering.

And I've been putting some of my sketchbook stuff together when I've had free time. This is in chronological order, with newest at the bottom.

So there ya go. It was a bitter longer than I would have liked to go between updates, but I think I have some cool stuff here. I've got a couple 3D projects to finish, the aforementioned semi-secret thingy, and a sketch to polish that might be biting off more than I can comfortably chew. I certainly have my work cut out for me as I work towards the next post. See you then!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bizarre Friday Post (and News about Future Updates)

Hi! It's our first anniversary Sunday, so we'll be gone this weekend. I thought I'd get these things uploaded before we head out this afternoon.

Here's a work in progress guy based on a sketch I did. I was going to show the sketch to you, too, but it's pretty ugly.

A western bandit, a pig man, a guy with an armored arm, a guy with two pistols, and a robot guy about to do some gongfu (also, according to the definition in that link, gongfu is "...any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete..." meaning that I, as an artist, am a practitioner of gongfu).

Here we have a crazy guy with a sword, a spaceman, a small guy with a sword, and an evil demon creature. He's upset.

This last one I kept mainly for the hand in the bottom right hand corner. I think it turned out super spiffy!

Okay, on to the news.
When I first started this blog, I posted every day. Then, I realized I didn't have to post everything I did and only started posting the sketches I like. I've kinda stuck to that mindset for a while with various degrees of post frequency.
I had a chat with a friend yesterday and we chatted about art and stuff. During the course of our conversation I realized how much time I was spending preparing sketches to be uploaded. I'd say these took me like 3-4[?] hours to get all scanned, cut out, placed, and selected. Sometimes it takes longer. That's a lot of time to spend on a sketch! 
I think that to learn what I need to I need to start pushing pieces further, and so I'll be taking one sketch at a time and working with that, spending the time I'd previously have spent preparing sketches to take it to a finished state. I love updating the blog, but I'd like to have some really professional stuff to show.
So I'll be taking on one thing at a time and really nailing it before moving on to the next one. As I finish things, I'll upload and do a post. Once I have a larger body of (finished) work, I may go back to posting sketches like I've been doing for the last couple years. 

So there ya go! I'm off for the weekend. Hopefully I'll be posting again soon! Between the colored work in progress at the top of this post and the weird fish man from the last post, I have a couple things that should be getting finished.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

TAG MAYHEM (Apologies)

So, I accidentally removed my "Armoire" tag (which, some of you might remember, was my [misguided] attempt at creating a humerous, non-generic "Armor" tag) completely from my blog. I had meant to replace it with an "Armor" tag, but I failed. So we're starting from square one in that department, until I find the willpower within myself to go back through 551 blog posts and fix tags. So it was like 2 steps forward, 551 steps backward. I blew it. Those of you who search using the tags (i.e. only myself) are surely overwhelmed with grief. Sorry!

I did the initial sketch for this first one last week, and have been fiddling with it since then. I think I'd like to add textures or other cool details or something. Also, his right thumb (OUR LEFT). It's kinda funky. I'll keep tinkering.

I also found my blue pencil:


Lastly, here's the progress on my character. Slowly but surely, I suppose. Still no ears. I've done 2 or 3 different sets of feet but I can't get them to look right. I'm hoping to get the boots locked in this week and get a consistent level of detail across the whole thing. I'll post my concept sketch below. It's really nothing special, I don't know why I'm so interested in bringing this particular scribble to life. Also, the beard is wrong and the belt is too fat and the pecs are not flat enough. Hrrm. Sometimes things don't really make sense in 2D space.

That's all for me, have a nice week!

Saturday, November 7, 2015



Here's some stuff from this week (and why is everyone wearing scarves now!?):

Also, I started a new 3D project. I wish I could show you more, but he has no hands and feet or eyes or ears and looks silly. So you get beard. Next weekend I'll hopefully have more to share.