Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Sneak peek: new logo

This is something I have recently finished which I am rather proud of. One of the reasons for my enthusiasm is that this release is going to be HUGE. Seriously - the product will be one of this year's biggest launches.

Stay tuned for more in due course!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Visionaries; Knights of the Magical Light

The 80s was an interesting time for children's toys and action figures in particular. Earlier in the century laws were introduced in America banning the selling of toys which were linked to television series. It was thought that children were susceptible to the marketing power such joint ventures wielded. In the 80s these regulations were quashed and this prompted a slew of new toy lines (He Man was one of the first). In order to compete in such a busy environment it became necessary for products to have a gimmick which made them stand out. These ranged from transparent pieces to action features (like button-activated arms or LEDs) or even two-toys-in-one transforming abilities.

In the case of Hasbro’s Visionaries, their gimmick was holograms. Holograms on toys were not new, but the exact combination of post-apocalyptic action-men-super-heroes with holograms was. The figures sported holograms on their chest-plates and banner poles which depicted the animals they were aligned to. However, the line did not sell well and was canceled within a year. A planned second wave of figures was not released. I recall the Visionaries competing with Tonka’s hologram-sporting Supernaturals (which I will blog about soon) which may well have something to do with their demise.

I liked the Visionaries for two reasons – the background was pretty cool and the branding was slick. The characters were knights who inhabited a degenerated feudal dark-age world which was the result of a catastrophe. They carried techno-medieval weapons and had awesome armour and helmets. The branding and promotion for the toys was very professional and the logo is certainly awesome. I still have my Witterquick and Darkstorm figures and they hold a special place in my geek collection.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Bitmap Brothers

I grew up in the 16bit era and undoubtedly the one of the period's best game developers were the Bitmap Brothers.

Their work stands out in my mind because of the taste and restraint their graphics and marketing showed. The muted, harmonious colour schemes steered away from the brash, garish artwork that typified pop art of the early 90s. Although their breakthough titles Xenon was somewhat lurid, subsequent games like Cadaver, Gods and the famous Speedball 2 were typified by beautiful, sombre tones which helped to set the dystopian mood. The loading screen image for my favorite game, Gods, featured a beautiful render of a Corinthian helmet, and the cover art was by the great Simon Bisley.

The core members of the studio left in 2004, but the IP continues with their most famous title, Speedball. The game was resurrected in 2007 but met with a lukewarm response. An app version was recently released which seems to be faring well.

For those of who you can remember the original; "Ice cream! Ice cream!"

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

THE GOLDEN AGE -The Simulation

The click-erty-click world of the internet lead me to this amazing video.

THE GOLDEN AGE -The Simulation from Paul Nicholls on Vimeo.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

MadC graffiti

A little while ago I blogged about the German graffiti artist MadC whose show I went to see open. I mentioned she had some work near to my office, and the other day I snapped her mural as I passed by.

Friday, 20 May 2011


I still live and work relatively close to my alma mater, and occasionally enjoy exercising my right as an alumnus to use the amazing libraries. On my last trip I came across a book profiling the Roman amphitheaters in Britain. It had an entry on the one at Verulamium, close to where I went to school. It ran as follows:

The Verulamium theatre was discovered and first excavated in 1847 when a farmer notified the antiquary R. Grove-Lowe of the presence of curvilinear walls in his field. Though well conducted for its time the excavation did not establish a chronological sequence for the building. Virtually total excavation was carried out in 1933-34 by Kathleen Kenyon after which the site was consolidated as a publicly accessible monument. An unusual book by Anthony Lowther attempted to interpret the theatre through imaginary vignettes of episodes in its history. 

“The Roman Amphitheatre in Britain” by Tony Wilmott

Alas I can't find my photos of the site and ruins, so here are some from the interwebs. I have not been able to find any trace of the Lowther book referred to.

Top image source

Images 2 and 3 source

Bottom image source

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Ribbon Hero 2

I am getting more and more interested in the subject of gamification. What that means for you is that you're going to hear me wittering on about it with increased frequency in the months to come.

Microsoft have developed a download-able game which teaches users how to use Office. From the intro video Ribbon Hero 2 looks pretty approachable. Although they make a big deal about the presence of the intensely annoying Clippy, I thankfully didn't spot him anywhere in the promo video.

I must confess, what initially made me read the article about the game was the front-end artwork, which I think is utterly charming and a nice departure from the "Apple gloss" that pervades UI design at present. 

I would download it and give it a go, but I use a Mac and there is no Apple-compatible version.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Sylvia Ji - eat your heart out

We amused ourselves a week or two ago with the excellent Holdup Heroines party in London's West End. The theme was masks, and I opted to paint mine on in my death's head style. I have recently discovered the wonderful paintings of Sylvia Ji and departed from the rather bold scheme which I have so far pursued. Instead the makeup's details were light and delicate.

I was pretty pleased with the outcome, but the photo here hides some of its shortcomings.  I found it was extremely difficult to ensure the delicate lines were symmetrical, and the makeup does rather rely on things being very even. I used much less white this time and only patted a little water-based product onto the raised areas of my face. This worked well and I will think again about trying to get a thick, even coat as I have done in the past.

Enjoy the small sample of Sylvia's images below and do check out her other work. Click on the 'death's head makeup' tag below to see my previous attempts.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

By the power of Grayskull!!!

The wonderfully named Monster Brains has just uploaded what can only be described as an awesome motherload of vintage Masters of the Universe artwork. It's full colour and high-rez so click here to check it out.

Here are some of my favorites...

Thirty Four

I spied this tiny numeral on the floor of the British Film Institute's toilet the other week. What was it for? Where did it come from? What does it all mean? There is, no doubt, some terrifying Lynch-ian tale behind the digit involving red curtains, dwarfs and coffee.

Answers on a postcard, please.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Theo's Shield

"Come back with it, or on it" was what a Spartan women would say to her husband as he carried off his large Apsis (or shield) to war. She, of course, meant that if he returned without it, he would be accused of having dropped his prize shield in order to run away, which was the height of dishonor.

My reenactment pal Theo (or Theo of Koronta, to give him his full title), wanted his new shield painting and I stepped up to the task. He asked for a depiction of the river god Achelous, a native of his homeland, to feature in the design. We spent a while refining the scheme, which evolved from a stark monochrome graphic to a more polychrome illustration. Once Theo was happy, I set to work and used a projector to transfer the image to the piece. I then used acrylics to paint the scheme, which worked admirably (although some of the tones had rather poor coverage). I was worried about the border, fearing that the real-life un-evenness of the shield's shape might lead to the spacing of the wave patterns going awry. Thankfully putting in the compass points as key markers allowed me to space the elements pretty well.

I am quite pleased with the outcome and it was nice to see the shield "in the wild" last weekend (the topic of a forthcoming blog post). Let's just hope Theo does not drop it!

The progression of the designs, done in Illustrator 
The various stages of painting. It was tricky to build up the depth of colour with the blue.

The final shield, which I think resembles the chosen sketch very closely.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Slow posting

A quick update to say "Hi" and other things to convey the fact I am not dead. Life has been super-busy here in Tears of Envy's secret headquarters, but all in a good way.

More posts soon, I promise. In the meantime, here's a picture I found on the interwebs which may amuse you.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The King and the Minotaur

An old Victorian warehouse behind London's King's Cross area hosted one of the most magical and engaging art shows I have been to. The King and the Minotaur was a multi-media group show presented through the metaphor of the labyrinth. Taking cues from fairy folklore, the Greek myth and a dash of the Jim Henson movie, guests were invited to explore the space, which was divided by walls of transparent muslin, to discover the works hidden within.

The labyrinth was populated by members of a contemporary dance troupe, dressed as fey creatures who taunted, enticed and teased visitors, one of whom wore the most amazing, conceptual minotaur costume. At the end of the tour, guests could relax in a wonderful gin bar with flasks of the drink suspended from the ceiling and warm straw bales to sit on.

I shall certainly be watching the promoters, Wignall and Moore, for future events.