Thursday, April 24, 2014

Art - Developing Taste and Value of Copying

Eye study based on reference using "paint roller"
In addition to doing quite a bit of traditional work (mainly figures, NSFW obviously) I have started to explore digital medium. Even though I enjoy the feel of physical medium, going digital allows you to experiment and go fast. Most grievous mistakes can be fixed. This isn't possible in physical work always or it will take a significant amount of effort at least.

It is surprising how well skills gained in physical world translate digital world. Observation, values, colors, it's all more or less the same. It is much easier to reach certain colors when going digital, though. If you work with something like pastel, getting the color you are after can be difficult. This is something I am learning to do still. Same goes for watercolor. The range of yellows is very limited compared to something like blue for instance.

Copy of Bird Sirin

Developing Taste

As a part of "going digital" I have been trying to develop my taste. Sergey Kolesov has become one of my favorites. There is something special in his works. They read very well and have that grungy feel I like. I would like to assimilate a part of that into my personal style.

Often digital works of art look too smooth or finished. You can achieve this using physical mediums too but it's way harder. Some applications, such as ArtRage or Painter, go to great extents to mimic the physical world. It is possible to achieve similar results using textured brushes. For me good digital work is all about certain clarity mixed with grunge.


Copy of The Moth King
In order to understand a couple of things better and learn the tools (ArtRage 4, Corel Painter Lite) I have begun to make copies of Sergey's work. Generally I spend roughly 20-30 minutes per piece and try to work fast. Big strokes and observations first, refinement later. For now it's about getting the basics on some level before moving further.

Due to the time constraint I cannot get too attached to some detail and I can afford to make mistakes. Sometimes doing a piece a couple of times allows you to capture certain aspects better on subsequent tries. I also try to work using different tools to get an idea of what sort of output you get out of each.

I suppose I could try to simplify my approach even further. Maybe doing studies with just two or three tones with even less time could be a good next step. Just capturing the values right makes for a believable picture.

Conclusion

I think doing these small little studies has taken me to the right direction. I know I have tons to learn about both physical and digital mediums. In some strange way they seem to complement each other.

I would recommend doing this type of work. Pick some works of an artist you like and copy away. You might be surprised to notice how much you can learn just by doing that. It will also give new kind of appreciation for the original art. You will notice things you have missed earlier.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Survive JavaScript - Now Powered by GitBook!

If you have been following this blog, you might remember I wrote a small book about JavaScript a year ago. Admittedly the site never looked that great. The situation has changed now. I ported Survive JavaScript site to use GitBook.

GitBook is an amazing little tool that allows you author your book using Markdown and then compile it into a nice looking static site. It even makes it possible to write JavaScript exercises. This is something I still have to try out. Apart from some minor glitches it is looking great and no doubt it will continue to develop further.

Now that the book looks good perhaps it is time to start updating the content. I have a couple of ideas of my own. If you have specific topics in mind that you feel should be covered, let me know.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Linkdump 20 - Business, Personal Development, Art...

Time for a new linkdump given the previous one was at February. This time around I wrote it in a semi-automated manner. For this purpose I wrote various blog utilities that allow me to fetch data from Twitter and then format it a little bit.

Business

Personal Development

Software Development


Web Development


UX


Finland


Gaming


Art

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thoughts on Agent Themed Instanssi 2014

To continue the tradition I participated in this year's Instanssi. It is a local demoscene event held at Jyväskylä. It lasts for three days and packs plenty of action. This year it was agent themed.

You can check out some of the results. Not all is suitable for work unless you like strange stares so take care.

Personally I participated in a little agent themed competition where you were supposed to crack series of codes. I even wrote a tiny decoder to avoid using clunky, paper based one. Overall it was a nice challenge and I would not mind taking part again. I also learned to pick simple locks at a workshop. Maybe that skill comes in handy some day.

effectserver-client - Controlling Lights Using Node.js

As Instanssi provides programmable lighting through a simple UDP interface I decided to play around with them a little. As a result of my experiments I ended up releasing a small Node based library. effectserver-client abstracts UDP and provides simple means to animate the lights. The library comes with a couple of sample effects.

Of course it's an useless library unless there is suitable hardware around. It would be a good exercise to write an UDP server that works with the client and then provide a visualization for that. Perhaps that is something I will do next year. Or sooner even if there's sufficient motivation and reason to do that.

Conclusion

I hope we see Instanssi again next year. It's not a very big event but that in part makes the atmosphere nice and cozy. This is one of those things I value in Finland very much. It is excellent to have a local community that keeps these kind of events alive. You don't have that everywhere.

EDIT: Photos of the event by Rakeinen.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

jsDelivr API - From a Casual Experiment to Success

During the past few months I've been pushing forward a little API for JavaScript CDNs. It's a project that started casually and just keeps chugging on. It's a valuable especially for tool authors but who knows how people will use it. I authored a blog post on the API at gun.io blog. Check it out for some juicy details.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

How to Test for Cultural Fit?

As I have discussed earlier, culture is an inseparable part of a company. This is something important to take in count when recruiting. Just looking at numbers and hoping it will work out is not enough. You will have to make sure the prospect fits the organization. But how do you test for this cultural fit?

Valve has made its culture partly visible in a form of an employee handbook. By making these things explicit you will make it easier for people to evaluate whether they would like to work in the sort of environment you have in place. This is only part of the story, though.

Rather than hiring through a proxy, let it be a hiring manager or a HR agency, ask the people the person would be working with. In case you feel good about the person and want to play it safe, you can consider implementing a trial period. This is something Buffer has done with great success.

By actually working for a period of time together both parties will have a good idea if it's something to keep on continuing. Alternatively you could employ the person through a freelance contract and work towards something more permanent as trust is gained. Sometimes retaining the situation as is might actually be preferable to employment. Flexibility can be a good thing.

I feel this is one of those things you should tackle early on. If there's no fit, things can get awkward over longer term. It also restricts the potential of the arrangement. Good environment can bring the best out of people while inverse is true as well.