Thursday, 28 April 2011

That Inconvenient Timey-Wimey Thing - An Academic Review of the Year

So, a year has passed - at least, an academic one has (Am I the only one who hates how short academic years are?) - and a review of my education is on the cards.

I’ll be honest right now, with everyone: I’ve not been the greatest student this year, if anything I’ve been the nightmare student that all teachers dread. I can do the work, I’m capable, I could even learn to love 3D, but the motivation this year has been severely lacking. It’s not even been something that I could help, or change.

My formative assessment wasn’t the best, to say the least (Understatement of the century). It was quite possibly the most devastating news I’ve ever heard, and hearing Mike ask if it was because of a problem I had with the course made my head spin.

I’ve got no problems with the course - I may have grouched and ranted at first, but I’m putting that down to sheer culture shock. I’d been away from the British Educational System for three years, and it was difficult trying to get to grips with teaching methods over here again.

Personally, I think the course is the best in England - I hunted high and low (literally from Dundee to New Port) and only DMU seemed to offer a fair knowledgeable balance of 3D and 2D. The others were all under funded, under staffed, or focused solely on 3D (I’d have died - it’s one of my biggest nightmares, come to life).

3D is a nightmare for me, always has been. I’m just not good with computers, they con-fuddle and confound me (I even hate Facebook, Twitter and have a general disdain for msn), so I tend to need a bit more help with this class than I usually like to admit. I’m a proud person, and asking for help doesn’t come easily to me at all. Maybe if I’d asked earlier I wouldn’t be having the trouble I am now?

I tried to research and looked at several tutorials online, but I still found myself lost. It felt as though Heather was speaking a different language, and I was the only person in the room who didn’t understand it. I finally got the hang of modelling in low poly towards the end of the year (read: now-ish), but I still find texturing unbelievably hard - it makes my head spin. I’m not the best painter to begin, but having to flatten things and then give them texture? No chance. The silly thing is, I can plan out what I want it to look like in my head, but the moment I try to paint it I end up with a pixelated flat mess.

I haven’t given up, and I’m still working on it, timidly. But every time I get near Photoshop with a texture file, I get the sudden impulsive urge to run for my life.

As I’m so bad at this class, I think any suggestions on my part would be a bit of a joke, to be honest. Though I did think the flow of projects was a bit strange. Instead of going from relatively easy to hard, I though the projects jumped all over the place - going from making and texturing a wheelie bin, to a house, and then down to a tree? Seemed a bit odd, and stressful.

Oh, and maybe remedial classes? Is the hopeful look not helping? Dang…

I’ll admit I found the semester of 2D a little boring, from the technical aspect, but I understand the need to get every one on a level footing in regards perspective, composition and other equally important tools of the trade. But Chris made the lessons engaging and fun with the continual outings, being outside, and drawing things from life like that, really helped me to develop an eye for figuring out perspective, as well as how to compose a natural looking scene.

The second semester of 2D was my favourite class. Ever. Nothing can ever top life drawing, no matter how many times I curse ‘bad drawing days’, nothing will kill my love of it. I’m a firm believer that life drawing is one of the most important lessons an artist can take. Everything in our world is ergonomically design, with humans in mind, how better to understand that than to study the human for itself?

I adored the character projects as well. I might not be the best, technically to create a character (I’ve been told a couple of times that my back grounds are better?) But I just love the entire process of bringing something to life.

The one thing that I’d have liked to have seen along side the life drawing and character projects would have been anatomy studies. I’m generally quite a technical person (until you give me a computer, then I fail), and I know that I’m not the only one in the class. Having an understand of how things are put together - skeleton, muscle structure - would have helped me to create the over all form, especially when designing characters without an immediate reference.

As for Critical Studies, for all I procrastinate on my blog posts, this is actually my favourite class, after life drawing. I love learning about the inner workings of the Games Industry, and just how each person adds to the whole of the production pipeline.

First semester was a bit wearing. I didn’t know what to write, how to write it, how to not sound like a douche. I don’t think I succeeded on that last one. Oh, and I hope I never have to write another introductory post again… Ever. I think I’d end up killing someone out of sheer frustration (maybe the person who invented 3D art applications, and geared them towards programmers). Finding out about the history of games though was interesting, I’d had no idea that it started so early, and thanks to that little detour to the past - and a helpful roommate - I discovered a love of adventure games and walk through novels.

Doing the latest blogs on game design, however, have made me take a step back and look at my own work flow through different eyes. I think they’ve also helped me decide on what I’d like to set as my final goal in life. I remember in my first post I wanted to do concept art, or design characters, but that was more an immediate after university want. It’s kind of grown into something else, and I find I quite like the idea of managing other people, making sure a vision works the way it should (And guys, I promise I’d be way more motivated in this, Easter Break = Soul Searching, though why it couldn‘t have happened sooner I‘ll never know).

Looking back on the year, I wish I’d worked harder. I wish I’d been able to pour everything that I am into the course, instead of sitting here with regrets. But life goes on, and one way or another, I’m not going to give up, pass or fail.

I’ve got a dream that I intend to see through, and two capable hands to make it happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment