Walking Backwards with Snowshoes

Alaska. The last frontier. A place I've dreamt of visiting and exploring. I got that opportunity when a friend asked me to visit. My friend is quite the avid outdoors man, that's what brought us together. He is also firefighter and hunting guide for local outfitters. I was super stoked about heading out there and exploring. I brought my travel art kit and prepared for the cold as best I could. I arrived in Anchorage and being a great host had some fun stuff planned out for us. We went looking for goshawk nests in the snow and had some friendly run ins with moose. Headed out to see some incredible glaciers and visited small towns one which host dog sledding races. It was all a great time. I snuck in sketching wherever I got the chance. Everyplace in Alaska seems to have taxidermy, skulls, old trekking equipment so the subjects are there.

One of the times we headed to his cabin, which was quite a ways out and the weather was cold! Upon arrival it was obvious we were going to have quite the walk to the front door. The snow was deep deep. He led the way with his snowshoes and I followed as we both made the best possible trail from his 4x4 to the front door using our snowshoes. The cabin was -25 inside and the first order of things was to get things warm. We brought in firewood and got the stove going. After all equipment was in we left to a nearby town and got dinner. We hiked around the banks of the frozen river and took in the scenery. We tried to follow ptarmigan and snowshoe hare tracks but no luck. Nighttime was coming quick and the temp was dropping fast. Back at the cabin the stove had done a nice job of making it warm. We chatted for a while. I got my sketchbook out and drew under the light of the kerosene lamps. Being in Alaska my subjects were its native wildlife naturally. I had wolves, moose and muskox on the brain. We called it a night and went to sleep.

About 3 in the morning all the water I drank was ready to join its cousin, the snow, outside. I climbed down the ladder and stepped outside. This is going to sound insane but it was one of the most incredible and worrisome restroom break I've ever had and possibly will ever have. It was freezing!  Not sure what the temperature was, but it was COLD. It was one of those times where things take a looOong time, (I drank too much water and Gatorade). Being outside in the middle of nowhere, in Alaska, at night, is dangerous. You feel vulnerable in this vastness. The snow makes the atmosphere at least bright, so my eyes were always in patrol mode. I know the moon makes things bright but this was a different. I've been out in the dark when there is snow, but this lighting was not the norm. I couldn't quite understand. Then I looked up! I did not expect it in a million years! The northern lights! Wow. Just beautiful, almost made me drop my guard and keep an eye out. Then all,of a sudden in live surround sound wolf howls! They were far off  but I quickly got back in locked the door and jumped in bed. The experience was surreal and incredible. What a restroom break huh?

"Oh about "walking backwards with snowshoes"...
Well I'll keep it quick. Next day I was headed outside to explore around the cabin. Snowshoes went on and I grabbed the poles I was using for balance.

"You should put on your gloves Manny." Nah, don't need them. I started out and made my way to a pretty good bank of snow, I better back up I thought. Wrong move. Inexperience. One just doesn't step backwards with snowshoes. When you fall in about five feet of snow, bum first, there is no floor. You can't just stand up, feels like you're just punching holes in the snow looking for the floor. Well undoing snowshoes should have been easy, they were right in front of my face, I was folded like a taco I realized. No gloves equals frozen hands.. I learned a couple of things that day. Wear gloves in below freezing temps it makes removing the snaps on snowshoes easier and listen to good advice. I walked into the cabin snow covered. My friend sitting on the sofa, drinking his coffee looks at me and busts out laughing. :) I love Alaska! More stories soon!
Lifes better outside! Be Prepared!

Art Explorers class at Gnomon!

Join Art Explorers now, at the Gnomon Masterclass until the 3rd of July! I will be giving details on how to design a vehicle for the entertainment industry in an instructional video in 5 chapters, including theory, 3ds Max basics and a lot of Photoshop tricks! We will also be posting soon on this blog, free tools for artists, such as PS brushes gradients and more!

Ocean blues

So much overtime to deliver our next game Shape Up that I'm starting to look like a zombie, you know where I'd like to be right now? Maybe somewhere that feel like this...
container bungalows on tilts...

An International Language

When I started kindergarten I could not speak English. I had a bilingual teacher, but communicating was difficult. I had incidents where I had to communicate but couldn't talk the language but I had one saving grace, a crayon. :)

I've been fortunate to have the ability and the interest to draw from an early age. I spent so much time copying illustrations from coloring books. I clearly remember learning how to draw Popeye before even learning how to spell. I remember drawing to communicate with teachers and every time they understood!!! I remember drawing a box of tissues and one time drawing a toilet in a really big hurry!!!!
(the restroom was about 10 more steps from where I was :P) but I was on to something! Even as a kid I remember how proud I felt people could tell what I was actually drawing. 
Drawing has been used as a form of communication going back to the beginning of man. Petroglyphs date back to the beginning, beautiful cave art like that found in Chauvet caves of Southern France and  ancient Tibetan dwellings are just incredible. All manners of recording stories of ancient past to pass down, a great form of communication.  

I was fortunate enough to attend a Festival of international falconers many years ago in England. Many different cultures and many countries were represented and all with the same  passion of an ancient sport. Interpreters were hired to help  bridge the language barriers between so many people. Every country represented had a big tent displaying their form of falconry. One evening I found myself with a friend that was showing footage of his eagles hunting the highlands of Scotland. We were chatting about eagles when in front of the tent passed one of the legendary eagle hunters of the steppes everybody always hears about. The Mongols, the Kazakhs, the Kyrgystani  all of these different eagle hunters  were visiting. Here was a golden opportunity for my friend, Roy to chat and talk "eagles." He quickly approached the man and shook his hand and said hi. He led him in the tent sat him down and pointed at the screen of the golden eagle chasing hares thru the snow.

The man smiled gave a thumbs up and continued watching. Roy then asked, "what do you think? That's my eagle, we catch lots of hares"... He looked at Roy and smiled. Uh oh, one problem. Did not speak English. Roy desperately looked around and expressed his woe. Here is one of these legendary eagle hunters and we can't communicate! We were stalled. He tried his skills at charades which worked for a little bit and we hit a brick wall. All of a sudden my mind went back to kindergarten! I asked Roy quickly, "do you have a crayon?" I quickly changed my statement to pen, "do you have a pen?" "Give me a piece of paper!" Roy caught on quickly to what I was about to do, "brilliant!" I quickly would cartoon Roy's questions to the gentleman. We were all having a good time, he would answer or point at whatever I was drawing and the "conversation" started. It was a bit one sided since both Roy and I couldn't understand when he wanted to talk. After our chat or "cartoons" he left and returned with his interpretor. We talked for a bit longer and he got to ask what he wanted too. We hugged and said bye for the day, I think he kept the drawings and ever time I would run into him at the festival he would smile and act like he was drawing with a pen and laugh. He gave me one of his countries traditional hats, a gift I loved and still have. 
A year later a friend from Kazakhstan informed me that the eagle hunter had passed away. It made me think back to our "conversation" and to the times I shared with him talking about a passion we both share. I wish I could have visited him in his country, see him fly his eagles and gotten to know him better, but I am thankful for the time we had. Thankful I could "communicate" thru art.

May you always soar high,

KÜHL Ryder Pants Product Review

Outdoors to me is a very important asset in my life. Not only does it help me keep my sanity but I'm also very passionate about exploring, hiking , camping and most of all Falconry! Falconry is the ancient sport of hunting with a trained wild raptor. During the winter months ,almost everyday, I'm out with my redtail hawk traversing the central Texas woods. My hawk always leads the way, I have no control where she flies to and what she chases, so it's literally an adventure every time out.  Those of you that have been out with the hawk and I know what I'm talking about. I'm like a Sasquatch tearing thru vines, running thru creeks, jumping and climbing! It's all part of the sport. So I push my equipment pretty hard. Most hunting boots, briar clothes... etc. isn't meant to be used everyday thru a season, so I find out pretty quick what lasts and what doesn't. Last season I put a pair of KÜHL RYDR pants thru a heck of a season and test. They held up great and super comfortable.
The first feature I love is the gussetted crotch that stitched all the way to the knee. Kneeling is super comfortable and not a pain. The material they have used has a little bit of stretch and is tough as well. Every photographer knows the positions one has to get into to get those special shots, these pants allow that! Climbing when I have needed to in the field was not hendered by pants. They have full range of motion when I had to boulder and tough.  

The second feature is the anatomical cut and stitched knee. I have to say that's what caught my eye right off the bat. One look at these pants and you realize they are not the straight unnatural look of normal every day jeans. Again squatting to take a picture or kneeling on the ground to tend to my hawk is comfortable and easy.  The fit is there naturally with way your body bends. There is no tension on the thighs, no tugging or fighting with trying to get comfortable. The freedom of movement in the pants is awesome! The stitching is doubled throughout the construction of the pants. The pockets are reinforced at the high wear areas as well as the bottom cuffs for durability . There is also a pocket on the right leg which I think is for a cell phone or knife.

The toughness of the RYDER pants have held up in the field no problem. These pants were probably not made for running thru briars or even bouldering but they held up really nice. As with briar terrain thorns will win in the end, so I do wear briar snake chaps if it's necessary, but the times I didn't have my chaps, they held up great. Nothing is indestructible and wear will happen, but these pants have held their own against the elements. I highly recommend them for your next hiking and camping adventure. They're at home in the outdoors

KÜHL has recently released what they claim is their toughest fabric pants called The Law, I cannot wait to get a pair. The winter is past us as I write this entry, so I settled for their Ambush Cargo shorts which I'm happy with as well. I can tell this company is passionate about innovation and with their design. My colleagues and I are all about design and usability. What I love about the company is they will continue to innovate. KÜHL seems to strive for a good product and I'm now a happy customer. I'm heading to Africa in a couple of months to do some volunteer work in the field with wildlife, these KHÜL RYDER pants are coming with me! 
Stay safe and make your own path.

Childhood casse-tete

Hi explorers of all horizons,
It's such a pleasure to start a new project with some old friends that i had to find some free time to post something this WE despite the overtime at Ubisoft during this E3 madness! What a great idea to present some personal works and conversations outside of our usual - more confined - Concept Art realm, so thank you KristyManu and Vyle :-)
I grew up in the beautiful island of Madagascar, living mostly outside, playing with my brother and friends, we were living amazing adventures everywhere, either on land, beach or sea and probably a lot in our heads too. From as far as i can recall, drawing has been a big part of my life, but growing up and becoming a Concept Designer today was just a logical evolution after my childhood "traumas".
I think it all started mainly because of 2 thing; Lego© and spearguns. With the family, we spent all our weekends in Foulpointe, i remember being so intensely impressed by the local Malagasy kids who had homemade wooden spear-guns and were fishing in the reefs nearby. It became an obsession, i needed to make one myself but i never perfectly understood how they designed their trigger mechanisms (about 8 years old an no internet, DIY engineering isn't that easy), after drawing hundreds of triggers and trying different prototypes made out of planks, nails and tire tubes,  it ended up being... a big fail! Yes my spearguns never worked well but at least it was fun to try. So here is an homage to these ingenious kids, thanks for sparking the love of problem-solving and design!
Concerning Legos, it's another story but not for now...