If you haven't guessed it already, my name is Travis Manley. I'm a photographer (who isn't right?), a blogger (you're reading this aren't you?), a gamer, a husband, and a father. This blog is purely for my entertainment and maybe a few other people out there (hi mom). Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Back to Basics


My quest to become a master-artist-extraordinaire hit a rough spot last week. I was in that rut again; drawing the same thing over and over and not making any progress. After crying myself to sleep one night (kidding) it dawned on me that I had unreasonable expectations. Specifically I expected that I should be able to sit down and whip out a great looking drawing in 20-30 minutes from memory with no references. I don't know where I got this idea but man, I was setting myself up for disappointment.

I feel a little better now. Hey, the quickest way to meet your expectations is to lower them, right?

I had been fighting going back to the drawing board and starting over hoping to pick up where I left off after art school but I think the problem with this structure is in the foundation. I keep hoping, like I did in school, that with a little anatomy study and drawing from references that I could jump into drawing from memory and my imagination if I practiced that long enough. Problem is, even now, I still find myself second guessing and misremembering  little thing: How to draw and accurate knee or an elbow; The length of an arm or leg. No matter how many times I draw them from memory if I'm drawing them incorrectly I will never learn.

So here we go. Back to the basics. If you need me I will be up to my ears in anatomy books and gesture drawings for the next few weeks, or even longer.

Oh, I got a Wacom tablet. I love drawing digitally. I had the habit of drawing my guidelines too dark or heavy on paper then ending up with a mess of lines and not being able to decipher what was what. The ability to have different stages of whatever I'm drawing on separate layers is priceless.

Here is what I have been up to.

Testing out my new tablet

Figure studies. Tracing from a photo on the left and then drawing from the photo on the right

Same here

Drawing from a reference photo

Playing around with blocking in with a fat brush then "carving" out the detail. With a photo ref.
Quick gestures practicing poses from memory
Working on poses from memory with a simplified model

Same here

Friday, March 16, 2012

New Sketches

Fight the Power!

More sketches! These are in order from newest to oldest and all created over the last week or so.  I've been working on hands a lot the last few days. One of those tricky things I never really got good at. I'm still working on developing the style for my web comic. Lots of ideas just not quite ready to start posting actual comics yet.

This actually part of a frame I'm working on for the comic.

I've got the style of the face pretty close to what I want. I'm working on bodies now.

Need to come up with some women's hair styles.

Working on expressions here!!!

Heya! ;)

Sketch from a photo.

Same here.

and here.

Family Guy study. Eyelids or no?

I'd totally buy a used car from this guy! lol

What do you mean we're out of bacon?!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Feeling Sketchy

I took a long break from drawing after finishing art school in 2004. When I was in college I drew like a madman. After graduating, I looked for a job in 3d graphics and after six months of unsuccessful job hunting I moved on to other things.

I started drawing again in February (2012). I'm always looking for ways of releasing creative energy and I thought it would be fun. It was like riding a bike and I picked it up again quickly and in no time I got into the same rut I was in during college. I was drawing the same blank face over and over again and getting frustrated because it wasn't "good" enough. I couldn't move on to anything else because I was stuck and my brain wouldn't let me get to that next step.

I had been reading a few webcomics (Penny Arcade, VG Cats, Least I Could Do) and I started playing around with drawing my own cartoons. It was a good feeling to be able to draw and not obsess about getting all the anatomy perfect. It was nice to have a goal to shoot for too: Come up with some good characters and start my own web comic. I like writing too so this is a project I'm excited about.

Here are a some random pages from my current sketchbook. 

Some quick gesture drawings


Dragonborn kid (Skyrim)

Playing around with different styles

Getting there

Working on expressions

Getting closer

I still have a few more sketchbooks to fill before I'm to where I would like to be. I have lots of ideas for characters and jokes for a web comic. At this point I'm working on developing a style that will fit. My goal is to develop a comic that I will post on this blog and will add new content once a week (at least).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Video Game Toilets

I just read this great article over at Kotaku about toilets in video games written by Michael J Dolan.

I don't remember the first toilet I came across in a video game but now it seems like you can get five minutes into a game without running into one. Not only are toilets a staple in games you can almost always use them now. My favorite game toilets are in Dead Rising where you actually have to take a piss in a urinal to save your game! lol

I have to agree with Dolan that probably the most annoying toilet situation is in Heavy Rain were you have the ability to stop and take a piss in every toilet you see but not pick up the phone and call the police.

I understand why there are toilets in games, hell even Skyrim has chamber pots next to beds (everyone poops, right?) but why do they have to make toilets we can use? Does it really add anything to a game?

Here is the link to the original story: http://bit.ly/yUW5zi

*Photo from Amazon

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Game Review: RAGE

I've been looking forward to RAGE from the second it was announced. I've always been a fan of id Software. Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein 3d were a few of the first computer games I ever played. The thought of playing a Doom-like game set in a wasteland environment with vehicles and top-notch graphics and gameplay was too much to resist.

I was disappointed when I read the less than stellar game reviews and sadly RAGE fell off my radar. Fortunately, I spotted a great deal on Amazon ($19 new and free shipping) and I couldnt pass it up.

Herese the skinny:

Story - The story is simple: Earth has been laid to waste after being struck by an asteroid. You play as the sole survivor of a vault that was part of a failed plan to rebuild civilization. The people that survived the impact of the asteroid have divided  into factions/tribes with the mutants at one end and The Authority at the other.

The story starts off interesting enough but fails to develop into anything truly exciting or original. By the end of the game it feels like you are just going through the motions and the end comes abruptly and is unsatisfying.

Gameplay - RAGE is an action-FPS at it's finest. Combat is fun and varied. Enemy AI is very good and keeps you on your toes. The character animation in RAGE is some of the best and most believable I have seen in a game. Enemies come at you from all directions, jumping from the walls and ceiling and also grab at their limbs when hit.

You have a variety of weapons at your disposal and the ability to craft, upgrade, and use different ammo types. There are also unique weapons like the Wingstick (like a boomerang) and mind-control bolts that let you shoot an enemy and turn them into a walking meat-bomb.

RAGE makes the switch from first-person shooter to driving game seamlessly. Vehicles are easy to control and vehicle combat is a blast. You have the option to compete in races to win tokens to upgrade your vehicle and racing is a good way to switch up the gameplay if you need a break. 

Graphics -  This game looks awesome! RAGE uses Megatexture technology, developed by Jon Carmack (id Software), that relies on a single massive texture for an environment. It defaults to a low resolution and as you enter parts of the map it loads in the high res texture. Here is the problem: there is a slight delay when you move your character around. If you are looking right and suddenly look left you can see all the low res textures before the high res textures pop in. This happens very fast but it is noticeable and distracting.

Texture issues aside the wasteland has never looked better. The terrain is where RAGE really shines. Rocks and hills look very realistic. The NPC characters all look great too.

Sound - Voice acting, music, and sound is excellent. No complaints here.

Clocking in at at eleven hours, RAGE feels a little on the short side (I did most the side missions too) but all good games seem like they should be longer. I can definitely see doing another playthough and trying out different fighting styles (more stealthy, more gadgets). Eleven hours might not be much but with the addition of co-op and multiplayer there is a lot of potential for additional gameplay.

My biggest disappointment was that I really wanted to get out there and explore but there isn't much out there to find. One of the incentives for buying the game new was access to sewer levels throughout the game and I only found one (there are supposedly nine) and it took me all of ten minutes to clear.

I had a blast with RAGE. It's not a perfect game but is it a lot of fun. RAGE's biggest flaw might be that it fell shot of peoples expectations. We have the right to be a disappointed. The brains that pioneered the FPS genera put out something new and claimed that it is going to be unlike anything we had seen and played but what we got was something that felt like the love-child of Fallout 3 and Borderlands

To sum things up:

The good - 

  • Awesome graphics
  • Gunfights and vehicle combat fun and rewarding
  • Lots of weapons and crafting/upgrading options

The bad - 

  • Texture lag issues
  • Short single player campaign 
  • The wasteland is small and there isn't much reason to explore

RAGE is available for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360

*photo from Amazon

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Breaking the Law! Breaking the Law!

Handcuffed man steals police cruiser and uses radio to ask where the cigarette lighter and key to the cuffs are.  

Drug suspect, William Francis Blankenship is still at large in the Porter County town of Kouts, Indianapolis. Indianapolis-ites can rest easy because Mr. Blankenship left the loaded pistol, shotgun, and rifle behind when he abandoned the cruiser in a ditch, submerged in water.

Full story here: http://bit.ly/yNfRlq

*photo from Amazon.com

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey 3/5 Stars

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is and action, adventure, puzzle game and the sequel to an older game The Longest Journey. You play as Zoe (and two different characters) who is trying to find out what has happened to her missing ex-boyfriend. 

The Good: The overall presentation of this game is good. I played the classic Xbox game on my Xbox 360 and the graphics held up to some of the 360 games I have played. The voice acting and environments were also done well.

The Bad: The controls are clumsy. Combat is terrible (luckily there are only a few fights). Most of the game is spent dozing off while listening to seemingly endless about of dialog and watching loading screens.

The Conclusion: Dreamfall: The Longest Journey might have been a big deal in its day but it just left me wanting to play a mind-less shooter to get the taste out of my mouth. To be honest the only reason I was interested in it is because of the developers new title The Secret World.

I recommend renting this game or picking it up used.

3/5 stars

Rent it at Gamefly 


buy it at Amazon