Inktober – Week 1 Thoughts

At this point, I’ve completed the first full week of Inktober. I’m really enjoying it so far. I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to work on a couple of my drawings, but overall, I’m really pleased with what I’ve done. Is it professional art? No, certainly not, but it’s more “serious” drawing than I’ve ever done.

So with the first week behind me, what have I learned so far:

  • Brush pens are really hard to use, but give great line variation
  • I love the look of a dip pen nib
  • Thicker dip pen lines leave a mound of ink on the paper and it takes longer than I thought to dry
  • Getting the underdrawing right really helps
  • Curves are hard…I still have trouble drawing them in one smooth motion and it shows up in the linework
  • Texturing with only black ink still alludes me…I need to work more of this into week 2

Ready for Inktober

This year, I’ve been trying to focus on a few more creative activities – specifically drawing. I used to doodle quite a bit in high school but stopped in college. I was never fantastic at it, but I enjoyed it. I really miss the creativity aspect of it, so this year, I’m doing Inktober with a few friends.

The rules are:
1) Make a drawing in ink
2) Post it online
3) Tag it with some Inktober specific hashtags
4) Repeat for every day in October

So 1 drawing, in ink (pencils can be used, but you have to finish in ink), for every day in October. I don’t expect to have any amazing sketches to share, but I’m planning on posting my finished drawings here just for fun. I don’t expect I’ll be able to carve out a ton of time to do these drawings, so they’ll likely end up happening in 30 minutes a day or so. Given my skill level, that means they’ll probably be barely better than a stick figure drawing.

At the very least, this will encourage me to do more drawing than I’ve done all year, so I’m looking forward to it.

Why I’m Excited About VR

Virtual Reality (VR) is something I’ve dreamt about for a very long time. If I had to pinpoint when I started getting interested in it, it was when I first saw the Holodeck1 on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s one thing to read about some fantastical world in a book and another to see that world come to life in a movie or even a traditional video game. It’s an entirely different experience to experience that same world yourself in VR.

In VR, there is the notion of “presence” – the sense that you’re actually there existing as part of that virtual world. It’s hard to describe until you experience it yourself, but one tiny, but powerful example is the Oculus Henry trailer.

In this trailer, you meet the star of the movie Henry, a little hedgehog. He comes out of the shadows and stands in front of you and puts our his arms for a hug. This trailer is interesting because of two reasons. First, Henry certainly looks like he’s standing right there in front of you due to the quality of the 3D rendering. Second, and more importantly, Henry knows where you’re looking2 so he actually makes and maintains eye contact with you as you look around. That makes it feel much more “real” than any other 3D I’ve seen.

You’ll see people compare VR to 3D TVs and 3D movies. While VR and older 3D content such as that certainly share a few things in common, most notably, the notion of depth, that’s about the only thing they have in common. With older 3D content, everything you saw was from a fixed viewpoint…you couldn’t move your head to see around an object or look in a direction the director didn’t intend. When you add in the freedom VR hardware gives you, it’s such a different experience.

The first VR experiences will be mostly games and entertainment experiences, which will certainly be great, but I’m most excited to see what other industries adopt VR. In particular, I think there is a ton of potential in the education space. One of the demos I tried put me in a classroom talking about dinosaurs and then it took me back in time so I could see the dinosaurs as I learned about them. Content like that will be amazingly powerful once VR becomes much more accessible & cheap.

I’ve experienced a ton of 3D content in my life and I can honestly say, nothing compares to the experience of VR. The VR that exists today is the first major step into the future. I can’t wait to start experiencing the amazing new content that is now possible and I’m even more excited to see what comes next.

  1. Yes, yes, I realize the Holodeck isn’t VR, nor is it augmented reality (AR). It’s practically a universe simulator in many ways and that’s quite a few steps from where today’s technology stands. 
  2. Technically, the consumer technology out there now doesn’t know exactly where you’re looking, it only knows where your head is pointing. If you keep your head pointing straight ahead, but look all the way to the left or right with your eyes alone, today’s VR hardware doesn’t know you’re not actually looking straight ahead. This will change in future hardware versions, but for all practical purposes, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re looking straight ahead so the effect works really well even without this detailed eye tracking.