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How to start learning programming – Kuan’s version

Typing this into Google, you definitely will get 32,500,000 hits. This seem to be a very popular question asked by those who wants to start programming. It is asked by those just who found the computer and that programing is awesome, who just step into University with a course relate to computer, and etc. The amount of hits related to the subject is not actually amount of questions but rather of answers. Why does Kuan want to write his own article about it? The reasons I can think of are:

  1. I never wrote one
  2. I didn’t have answer from “How to start learning programming?” to get myself involve in programming learning.
  3. Hope my own experience mean a little different to someone.

First step : LOVE it!

There are many reasons why people want to learn programming (my dear). I met a lot of people (mostly my classmate) who want to learn programming just because they need to pass a college programming subject. Majority of them end up struggling, suffering in the process of learning my dear. When they hate it they ask me why do I so enjoy the process so much. The answer: “Well, you got to love it.”

Programming languages allow us to create anything we want in a computer. Before you start a new programming practice sessions, first create something in your mind that you think is cool, useful or fun to be in your computer. Then start coding. Seriously, sit there and type on the keyboard with what you learned from the language so far. Tweak your brain to come out logical solutions. Calm yourself when you see 100 error when you press “compile”. Whenever you feel short of knowledge or solution, refer to the book or the web. The biggest satisfaction in programming is when you created what you want to create; seeing it magically working. Sooner or later, you will love this language and go on.

When I read my first programming book (on Visual Basic), I was so curious about if else, the for loop and the while loop. Then I start writing weird if else and loop code and get very excited when I first saw them working. Then I start make very simple but weird little programs using the logic I learned from the first few chapters. Reading the entire book and following the exercises in the book will just bore the process, its just like schooling. Think of something you like and make sure it is challenging enough and do it. Man is born to be free. We should create what we want rather then what the book wants. When thereis something that always give what you want, you will start loving it sooner or later.

Don’t stick to what you were told to do: job, homework, assignments. Have a timeout and program something that you want. Let it be your personal time manager, personal website, personal game, personal research. Then share them with your friends, let them appreciate your work. Show them to your good programmer friends and let them guide you. Be proud of it.

After all, mindset is the first thing to setup before you learn anything. If you step in without a willingness to learn and love-to-learn heart, learning just become boring, plain and dead. Love it and enjoy it. Life isn’t fun if we are not enjoying in what we are doing.

To be continue…

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June 21, 2007 Posted by | Game Development, Programming, Tutorial | 2 Comments

From Concept to Canvas

Note: This article is written by a good friend and former artist of Hatchlings Games, Moy. He was working on a cool trading card game where you can create your own cards including its abilities, stats and art. The game is called Quasr: the Trading Card Game (it was codenamed Encephalon during early development, when this article was written by Moy).

Often an artwork will go through alot of changes during its stage of development. Most of the time, the cause for these changes are good. For example during the drawing progress, the artist would want to change the subject in his work so it becomes better, he might find his work more suitable for some other purpose, or both. It is the lead artist’s responsibility to decide on how to reflect written concept on canvas. Take this one as example:

Written concept: This card represents a special territory. At anytime you control the territory and one of your creatures occupies it, they will receive no harm from others as long as they stay in it.

After some tinkering, this is what I came up…

Application in visual: This artwork shows a figure belonging to the special territory. When an opposition approaches, the terrain surrounding her will manifest her will and turn into a defensive guardian to protect her.

Now is time to put those words down with pen and tablet. Ladies and gentleman, please take your time and enjoy.

Zeus tut 1

Stage One: Composition definition.

2-minutes sketch. This is when my mind constantly searches for the right look and an interesting composition. Now, I know this looks like a puddle of crap. So next!

Zeus tut 2

Stage Two: Forms definition, low-level details

Sketchy… sketchy… this one took another 5 minutes. It is still very abstract. However, I’ve worked on enough details for me to glimpse at the final outcome. I kinda liked it. Jagged-stone ravine with a huge body materializing out and looking down at a surprised traveler. Notice the small figure above the guardian’s crown? She’s the creature occupying the territory.

Zeus tut 3

Stage Three: mid-level details

Still stucked at sketching, duh. ’till this point, I was improving on the sketch, experimenting with different sort of details, playing around with lines and perspective as well as compositional density. Some of you will ask, “when are you really gonna move on?”. Well one thing I learned from my experience is that the more time and detail you put in now, the less you would have to worry about later. After that, it was time for me to…

Zeus tut 4

Stage Four: Mood & Color definition

Color! This was the result after 2-3 hours of frustration. I scraped the original composition and zoomed in the view becoming from behind the traveler’s shoulder. Reason of the modification was that my initial sketch wasn’t all that good to begin with and frankly, it’s uncomfortable to look at. So something went horribly wrong when I started laying down colors. It didn’t flow well, the look and feel were very one-dimensional. Also note that I removed the figure because she doesn’t fit in to the new perspective anymore.

Still I wasn’t happy. I took a day break and went off to some self-improvement seminar in Holiday Villa.

Zeus tut 5

Stage Five: Color and compositional correction. Hi-level details.

When I came back to work feeling totally refreshed, it put me in a new perspective. I cropped the image as the swirling clouds are eating up too much attention, overhauled the color to make it more immersive, spent some good few hours polishing up details, made some final changes and…

Zeus

This is final.

So this is a brief overview of one of my painting style. As you can see from the progress, the removal of the female figure deterred the artwork from its original meaning. Other changes were made to the composition and colors, eveything just to accomodate the goal, whether it’s immersiveness, eye-candy or whatever, you name it.

The original written concept would need a new piece of art. As for this one, it has found another concept.

All artworks by Moy

February 2, 2007 Posted by | Encephalon, Quasr Art, Quasr Concept, Tutorial | 6 Comments