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artofali http://artofali.com Fri, 23 Mar 2018 16:17:18 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Year in London http://artofali.com/art/year-in-london/ http://artofali.com/art/year-in-london/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 02:02:04 +0000 http://artofali.com/?p=2869
I spent the last year living and working in London. I was art directing a mobile game at a small startup and spent most of my free-time exploring London Parks and plein air painting. I made an effort to explore what the city had to offer and mix it up with the locals.

Unfortunately the company I was working for didn’t meet my expectations, so after finishing the game, I returned to Berkeley California, to work at a more established company making a VR game for PS4. Still, I made good use of my spare-time abroad, and really enjoyed my year in London. Here are some of the highlights.

I loved being surrounded by a beautiful city with rich and varied architecture. It certainly beats the concrete blocks that fill most of the cities in California. Especially nice are all the amazing museums in London where I spent many days obsessively combing through artefacts and art that set my brain buzzing with inspiration on a regular basis.

Most of my spare time was spent painting in London’s huge, fantastic parks. It’s what I’ll miss most. To always be a few minutes away from a giant sprawling, verdant, beutifull natural landscape is really good for my soul.

Lake District
I got lot’s of recommendations to check out the Lake District while in England. So on one of Nancy’s visits we spent the weekend hiking the mountains and frolicking with sheep.

On another occasion we went to Portugal for a week staying in Lisbon and venturing out to Sintra to explore the castles and landscape. Lisbon especially impressed me as a sort of vintage San Francisco, except much cheaper and easy to travel around.

While in london, I sort of dove back into the world of competitive Street Fighter (More on this in a later post) and travelled to the French countryside to compete in an international tournament for Street Fighter 3 Third Strike. I went with a bunch of friends I made in the London underground arcade scene. It was really fun, and reminded me of the mid nineties when Street Fighter was all the rage. I got to geek out in a way that would have made ten year old Ali proud.

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Breath of Fire 4 http://artofali.com/art/breath-of-fire-4/ http://artofali.com/art/breath-of-fire-4/#respond Mon, 18 Sep 2017 05:01:41 +0000 http://artofali.com/?p=2859
In my ongoing attempt to return to all the games I played but never beat as a child, I went back and played Breath of Fire 4 for the Playstation.

I remember loving this game and being inspired by the art-book, and got about 20 hours into it before going going off to college.
Years later I tried picking it up again but had completely forgotten what I had done in the game and was clueless.
Lately I picked it up again and just started over from the beginning and played all the way through.
I played the last twenty hours or so over the course of a year when I was visiting from London before finally beating it.

The last year found me professionally much more in the driving chair of design and story and character development.
It was interesting to find how much of my instincts on those fronts are informed by 90’s JRPGs like this one.
Games like this overflowed with design and character and story.
This game in particular has countless mini games that you could easily spend hundreds of hours trying to improve and master.
There are probably 20 prototypes for viable mobile games within this one PS1 game from the nineties.

I was glad to finally beat it after letting it sit half finished for over 15 years.
I’m also glad for the chance to be reminded of good design and game play at a stage in my career where I can begin to pay it forward.

I decided to paint a little fan art to pay homage to a wonderful game that’s been with me most of my life!

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Hot! http://artofali.com/art/hot/ http://artofali.com/art/hot/#respond Sun, 18 Jun 2017 19:38:15 +0000 http://artofali.com/?p=2834 I didn’t expect when moving to London there would be days like this!

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London Plein Air http://artofali.com/art/london-plein-air/ http://artofali.com/art/london-plein-air/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 19:16:04 +0000 http://artofali.com/?p=2716
Since moving to London, I’ve tried to trek out to the cities amazing parks each weekend, to paint in my sketchbook.

Hunting for a good plein air spot has never been easier, as London is nothing but attractive buildings and foliage… At least in summer.

This last week signalled the beginning of the incessant cold, overcast, rainy days I was promised by everyone to expect since my move.

I thought I would post these twelve together, since I may not have a chance to paint a bunch of cheerful sunny London scenes again for a while.

I’m probably going to switch from painting in this impressionistic, gestural way to something more drawing based and structured, in the coming months, in accord with the the gloomy uncooperative weather.


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Hasui Kawase http://artofali.com/art/hasui-kawase/ http://artofali.com/art/hasui-kawase/#respond Mon, 15 Aug 2016 09:56:23 +0000 http://artofali.com/?p=2688
I was reading through a tech-art presentation given by Gjoel Svendsen over at Playdead studios, on all the clever things they did to make deceptively simple art for their game Inside.


A fascinating read, but I noticed Gjoel gave a shout out to Kawase Hasui, a Japanese wood block print artist active in the first half of the twentieth century.

I’ve always liked Japanese woodblock prints but never differentiated the different artists. (I know, shame on me) But when I looked up Kawase’s work, I realised most of the Japanese woodblock prints iv’e seen over the years that I’ve liked were his. I also noticed there didn’t appear to be a single online resource where you could see high rez scans of his prints that didn’t suffer from fading, colour casts, compression artifacts etc.

So I took a few hours and hunted down the best high rez sources of his prints, and went through and colour corrected and cleaned up the scans, and put them together in a proof-sheet.

Super inspiring images. He gets so much space/depth with so few colours and shapes. There is a wonderful sense of time of day, and active tranquillity in these images. Really helpful reference for someone like me who’s looking to get the most artistically from a mobile game.

If Kawase can make big open lush spaces come across with wood, then surely I can do it on a smartphone…


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Game Pre-vis http://artofali.com/art/game-pre-vis/ http://artofali.com/art/game-pre-vis/#respond Thu, 16 Jun 2016 18:50:57 +0000 http://artofali.com/?p=2661
Greetings from London! I’ve been in London a couple weeks now and I’ve been working on building out some 3D previs for the game I’m working on at Wibbu.

The company is generous about sharing the progress, so I thought I would post the work I’ve been doing building out the first scene of the game.

It’s the first time in my career that I’m being given the trust and freedom to define the visual style and art production for a game, and it’s a dream come true to finally do it.

The below images are renders out of Maya to set a target for the work I’ll be doing in Unity for mobile devices.

Hopefully my next update will be a short video where I’ve recreated these images as closely as possible in Unity, but with the advantage of rustling foliage, light streaming, splashing water, and all the other animations which will make this scene come alive.

Image converted using ifftoany

Image converted using ifftoany

Image converted using ifftoany

Image converted using ifftoany

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Farewell Bay Area! http://artofali.com/art/farewell-bay-area/ http://artofali.com/art/farewell-bay-area/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 21:55:25 +0000 http://artofali.com/?p=2654
My move to London is a couple days away, and I’ve spent my free time the last week painting my favorite haunts in my shiny new sketchbook. Here are a few of them, I offer as a farewell to the bay area.

I’ll be back to visit, so don’t fall apart on me you blubbering peninsula.


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Prime Mover Confusion http://artofali.com/art/prime-mover-confusion/ http://artofali.com/art/prime-mover-confusion/#comments Mon, 23 May 2016 18:05:04 +0000 http://artofali.com/?p=2646
I suck at science. I’m stupid and easily confused. I spent my youth practicing Street Fighter combos and learning yo-yo tricks, instead of basic science literacy or critical thinking. Please listen to this rant and tell me what I’m doing wrong:

Recently I was reading through all the books of Aristotle, and found myself drawn into his thorough step by step logic, in breaking down a subject/concept, and making an argument for the nature of it’s existence/function etc.

In many cases I had to remember to snap back to present day reality and remind myself that of course he was wrong, but struggled how (if I went back in time) I would explain it to him. In all cases it was simply that his reasoning was perfect, but that he didn’t have all the necessary information at his disposal when he was stepping through his arguments. That if he know about using algebraic notation to describe physical laws, if he knew about particle theory, the table of elements, physical forces, quantum electrodynamics, relativity etc. that he wouldn’t have gone astray.

But it was when I got to his Metaphysics book, that I realized I didn’t have an answer to his reasoning of the Prime Mover. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized the disturbing implications of accepting a contemporary scientific/materialist/reductionist explanation of the universe. That by accepting a physical causal chain for all reality, that extends at least as far back as the big bang, that you leave no room for thought to be it’s own starting point, separate from a predetermined clockwork universe, yet able to push particles around in the form of bio-electrical impulses in the brain. In other words, by accepting a scientific explanation of reality (Which most people with a college education would), you necessarily deny the possibility of free will. A leap few scientifically oriented people would actually make (or at least publicly admit to).

How does this point not come up every day when people talk about science or religion or physics etc? Either the scientific community is disingenuously not addressing the implication of the impossibility of free will, or I’m missing something. I’m betting on the latter. Please let me know!

The above recording was made By my Friend Kate, who promised to send it to her smart scientist friend. Hopefully I can get enlightened soon!


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Portrait Painting http://artofali.com/art/portrait-painting/ http://artofali.com/art/portrait-painting/#respond Fri, 20 May 2016 19:23:46 +0000 http://artofali.com/?p=2638
Thought I would try my hand at portrait painting in oils. It’s been years since my last oil painting, and even longer since my last portrait, so it was a fun blast from the past for me. Nancy was brave enough to sit for it, and the results came out okay, more of a learning experience for me.

I premixed the colors on my palette first, then proceeded to blog them in general shapes before working details. Made the whole process more consistent and methodical but a bit more boring as well, so that by the time I got towards the end I was happy to just leave it gestural rather than try to make it really detailed and realistic.


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Figure Drawings! http://artofali.com/art/figure-drawings/ http://artofali.com/art/figure-drawings/#respond Thu, 19 May 2016 20:16:20 +0000 http://artofali.com/?p=2625 I came across these old figure drawings while packing, and thought I would scan and upload them before they get stored away indefinitely.











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