Sunday, November 19, 2017

Greetings from Azeroth

Just a quick post: I've added a page called "Cosplay" to the blog/site (the link is next to the Art and Music pages on the top of this page, or if you're on a mobile device, you can open the pages menu by clicking on the "Home" link). I've already uploaded photos of my World of Warcraft orc there, and have also added my Necromancer and "Elderling meets Kerrigan" costumes (although those never got an "official" photoshoot, so there are fewer pictures and not quite as good quality). My next project is going to be building the Tier 10 Death Knight armor (Scourgelord, also from World of Warcraft). Thinking of making a version of Frostmourne for her weapon!

Frostmourne, the soul-stealing sword of the Lich King.

Here's a few photo edits of my orc cosplay. I've made the entire costume and the axe myself, out of 2 mm, 10 mm and 15 mm EVA foam which was painted with acrylic paints. Some details (spikes, and the like) were sculpted out of polymer clay. I also did the makeup and the photo editing. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, although there are plenty of things I would do differently were I to remake it.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

When Procrastination Ends

It's always the same story. I start a project, get really excited about it and work on it nonstop. Then I lose steam (usually because I run into a problem I can't solve in that instant), forget about it until one day I rediscover it and, miraculously, solve the problem in a heartbeat.

So... that's essentially what happened to this one. Believe it or not, I legit started out with a riff from vanilla World of Warcraft's "Volcanic" theme (plays in the Burning Steppes, Searing Gorge and Blackrock Mountain), and... well, obviously it went somewhere very different! To be honest, it's the bit with the guitars at about the 1:31 mark that I really like in this one. I've been trying my very best to get better sound quality in my compositions, and I think that compared to my earlier work, the newer stuff definitely sounds better and more defined.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Wait... He Likes Me?

It's almost Valentine's Day, and I'm feeling romantic! Yes, in spite of the fact that it's the occasion everyone loves to hate. So let's talk about video game romance.

Better Than... Multiplayer

I'm not ashamed to admit that one of the things I love (uh, pun unintended) about CRPGs are the romances. Let's face it, love's what makes the (real) world go around for most of us, and for a game with any kind of depth to skip that part of humanity would be just weird, because if you throw a bunch of people together for long enough (i.e. a party of adventurers), usually some of them will end up together. Bioware sometimes gets a bad rap because of its "dating simulators", but certainly a well-written romance arc will add immensely to a gaming experience (notice how I said well-written, and not necessarily one with a happy ending). And, as long as the content is optional, everyone wins, right?

When Obsidian announced that there would be no romances in Pillars of Eternity, I wept inside. Like, you put a good-looking chap with a shield into my party, and he doesn't even acknowledge my character as female? Pfft. Screw you, Edér. (Well, at least it's not nearly as frustrating as almost-but-not-quite-romancing Bishop in Neverwinter Nights 2. Now that caused some permanent damage.)

Speaking of Bioware, it was one of their games that first made me discover that romances in video games were a thing, namely, Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark. Ah, the suspicious Valen and his powerful neck muscles. How my character strived to prove to him that she was trustworthy! ;)

Valen Shadowbreath by AnnaHelme on DeviantArt

When it comes choosing favorites, it's difficult to decide, but the first prize would probably have to go to Garrus Vakarian from the Mass Effect games. I really liked him in the first game, and when I discovered that you could romance him in ME2, I was just giddy. Garrus is absolutely badass, funny, and, at times, awkward.

Yes, Garrus is an alien. More precisely, a Turian. Turians look like a cross between an eagle and a cat. Luckily, he doesn't sound like one.

Original Romance Theme: Rogue Heart

Now that we've established that I'm a hopeless and unapologetic romantic, it should come as no surprise that what I do best is compose sappy-yet-sad pieces, where I get to wallow in the tragedy of love.

Ah, love. Don't you just love the thumbnail? Especially the red-headed Triss with Geralt. So cute.

This particular melody kept playing in my head until I just had to "put it onto file", and I knew from the start that it would have to feature at least one instrument from my favorite family of instruments, the oboe family. There's just something special about their warm and rich, yet clear sound. So, there's two (the oboe, and the english horn, or cor anglais, if you're feeling fancy).

In my opinion, the end result resembles a romance theme from a fantasy RPG (in fact, there was a time when I was a bit worried I might have "borrowed" something from Jeremy Soule), so I named it after the fan fiction I've been writing about Neverwinter Nights 2. No vocals this time. I love this as it is - and I have to admit that overall I do prefer to listen to instrumentals myself. Duh, it's why I love game music in the first place.

The video shows this piece being played back in both the notation software I use to create my midi files, and the digital audio workstation (DAW) I then use to flesh them out with sampled sounds. Note that I use the notation software just to create midis, so some of it may be unorthodox (such as the numerous pppps, which you don't really see in notation that much). Also, forgive me if the footage recorded in Ableton Live isn't entirely in sync, I couldn't get OBS to record the sound (apparently has to do with the ASIO driver) so I had to guess from the visuals, and combined with the crossfading, it was a bit tricky to get right.

Friday, January 20, 2017

From Echoes to Visions of Oblivion

Just a quick post this time! As I've mentioned previously, I dabble in the art of photomanipulation and have *finally* uploaded some pieces on my DeviantArt page. For instance, yesterday I uploaded this one (which I have used as a profile pic on many sites):

Mage Hunter by echoesofoblivion on DeviantArt

More will be uploaded as I finish them. If you're into photomanipulations and fantasy art or just want to support my journey of improving, you should go check it out!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Of Dragons and Elderlings

If you've read my posts and listened to any of my music, you'll have noticed that it's mostly about video games. But, while I do enjoy gaming for the interactive experience (nothing quite beats being the protagonist of the story), my true love is the stories, no matter what form they take. Thus, I love reading too, and my choice of literature is fantasy. Of course.

One of my favorite authors is Robin Hobb, whose Farseer Trilogy I read in junior high, and since then I've consumed most of the other works set in the Realm of the Elderlings. I love the detail with which Hobb describes her world and her characters, who feel like real people, even the non-human ones. Hobb doesn't shy away from tragedy or dealing with disturbing themes (such as slavery, torture, or animal abuse), but neither does she kill off major characters simply for shock value. For me, the stories bring back a true childlike feeling of wonder and provide a beautiful world to dive into whenever I need to escape the real one.

Tribute to the Rain Wilds Chronicles

A tribute to this series, then, was definitely in order. The lyrics of this song are inspired by the Rain Wilds Chronicles tetralogy, mostly because the introduction screamed DRAGON!!111! to me ;) (Does it not bring to mind a beautiful, magnificent magical creature emerging from the morning mists?) However, I'm sure inspiration would not be difficult to find for ten more songs. At the very least, it would be an absolute injustice not to tribute a song to FitzChivalry Farseer and Nighteyes, so that will probably happen sometime in the future.


you came into this world;
Weak and powerless
with every breath you take;
Bound to earth,
your pride kicked to the ground;
But place your trust in me,
be what you were born to be;

And then my heart,
bursting with pride,
will dance to the beat of your wings in flight;
Then my soul,
silent for so long,
will dance and sing to your dragon song;

I came into this world;
Shunned and powerless,
they cast us all aside;
Bound to you,
now we fight just to survive;
Together we'll become
more than what we are apart;


Cover Art

Click to enlarge.

As you might have noticed, I dabble in photo editing/paintovers and have long been wanting to incorporate my art into my music videos (they're on an equal level of "unprofessional", so it can't hurt, right?) So here's my take on an Elderling; think of it as "digital cosplay" if you will. I do these by combining photo editing techniques with manual painting, and the challenge lies in making the photo and its painted parts meld together so that it is not obvious where the "seams" are, so to speak. Here, the face is edited but everything else, including the hair, was painted from scratch. I'll admit it's a bit rushed (I had to get the video uploaded before going back to writing my Master's again) so the scales on the face, for example, aren't a 100%, but I learned tons from doing it.

Got Curious?

In case you became interested in reading Hobb's works, I would suggest starting with the Farseer Trilogy, as it is the chronological starting point of the entire series. I would then follow up with the Liveship Traders, the Tawny Man Trilogy, the Rain Wilds Chronicles, in that order, before finally turning to the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy (which, at the time of writing this has two of the three books published).

Of course, Hobb has also written the Soldier Son Trilogy, which I have all but finished - I find it to be a slightly less engaging read as the characters are not quite as charming as in the other books, but it is still a very good series worthy of checking out.