Friday, 29 September 2017

Finally sculpting again

For a while I've been thinking about picking up sculpting again, but had never managed to find the best clay to work with. However, the other day on Instagram I saw Chet Zar busy sculpting in clay, and I noticed that he said it was called Chavant NSP Medium. A quick browse on Chavant's website led me to a place just around the corner from where I work in Cape Town called, Masque. There I managed to get a hold of some grey, medium density Chavant NSP for R250/900g.


Helpful Links:


Below are some experiments from the past week of playing with the clay.

Ben Winfield Ben Winfield

Ben WinfieldBen Winfield

Ben Winfield
Little hand sketches.

Ben Winfield
Keeping the clay warm.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

My First PUFfeR Experience

PUFfeR 2017

PUFfeR: Peninsula Ultra Fun Run
"Running in heaven feeling like hell."

A little back story.
I've known about the PUFfeR for around ten years now, ever since a family friend of ours ran the Tuffer Puffer (160km). I have only been running about two years, having grown up with my father running races, but had never personally got into it until I was 27. At the beginning of this year when the entries went out, I thought what the heck why not enter. There's probably a chance I won't get in, but it's worth a shot. What do you know, I get an email notification of my entry confirmation and now I have four months until race day. Fast forward the quickest four months of my life to the night before and I can't believe this is happening.

From the beginning of January until the 19th August this year (2017) I had run a total of ~2300km. Two thirds or so being on the road, with the rest on the trail. The year leading up to April I had been training for the Two Oceans Ultra, and the 16 weeks after that was weekend after weekend of trail. I joined some Whatsapp groups dedicated to the PUFfeR and managed to link up on a number of runs along the route and met some rad people in the process. Having thought the entire route would be self navigation, I needed to know all the trails I hadn't run before. Come race day I had run the whole route except for the road section inside Cape Point Reserve.

The Report.

Two days out, on Thursday, Chloe bought us some Woolies chicken and we cooked up some potatoes and salad. I got to bed at around 10 pm and had a good 8 hours sleep. Friday at work was pretty chilled. I had one beer after work and a pizza for supper. In hindsight the pizza was probably a bad idea, but I'll get to that.

Having prepared most of my equipment on Thursday evening it was just a matter of mixing some Roctane and getting things ready. I was in bed by 8:40 p.m., and only woke up once at 10:00 p.m..

My alarm went off at 2:15 a.m. I ate a banana whilst getting dressed and drank some water. I attempted to go to the toilet but it was still too early. My parents arrived at 3:00 a.m. at our house in Rondebosch to pick us up, and drove us to Cape Point Gate where the buses were waiting.  

13km: Cape Point Gate
13km: Cape Point Gate
We arrived at the gate just after 4:00 a.m. to watch my fellow runners fill up the three busses waiting to drive us into the reserve. I met up with Michael, Mark, Jana, Dion and Sabine who had been saving me a seat. Along the way I ate a GU stroopwafel. The bus was slightly delayed and we arrived at the start at 5:15 a.m. After we disembarked it was funny to watch everyone scrambling to find a place to pee. I snuck into the bush quickly, and no sooner had I come out when Andy had said, "Welcome to the start everyone. And go!" Just like that at 5:20 a.m. we plunged into the dark with only our headlamps lighting the path ahead.

I ran for a short while in the dark with Jana and Mark, but soon decided that I should hold back on my pace a bit as the unknown distance played with my mind. That didn't matter anyway as I quickly began feeling very bloated, and each bit of liquid and food I ate only seemed to add to the feeling. Not the best way to start. It was however beautiful to see the sliver of the moon rising through the clouds.

After making my way through the gate after 13 km I made a pit stop and sure enough all felt better afterwards. I would however battle on and off with a bloated/full feeling throughout the race.

Somewhere in the dark.
Somewhere in the dark.

My team (being my mom, dad, and girlfriend Chloe) met me at the gate and drove along side me on and off taking photos and filming until we got to the next water point at the bottom of Red Hill at about 21 km. I didn't eat anything at the table but had a Primal Bar whilst I made my way up the Hill. I adopted a run/walk technique here and stuck with two ladies to the top. Another pee break (actually the last one I would do) at the toilets by the turnoff. I can't remember what, if anything, I ate here.

The Mast way off in the distance.
The Mast way off in the distance.
The first bit of trail was great. Heading towards Lewis Gay Dam you can see in the distance where you are heading with the Mast lurking ominously on the horizon. We couldn't have asked for a better day as the weather was perfect with a few streaky clouds at that point and a gentle breeze.
From the dam water point we headed back onto the trail and made our way above Glencairn. Along this route there were safety patrols and marshals guiding us along who were super helpful and friendly. Unfortunately it was at this point that I noticed a niggle around my right knee. I don't know why but before the race I foresaw the possibility of needing some KT tape so luckily I had a whole roll waiting for me with my support crew at the next point but I just had to get there.

Figuring out strapping with my dad.
Figuring out strapping with my dad.
At this point I was about 30 km in and a thick feeling started to build up behind my right knee with what felt like ITB pain. Anyway I pressed on with some combo run/walking. Got to the checkpoint at the top of Black Hill and tried to tape my hairy knee. I did a quick google on my phone for the correct approach, which wasn't the best in the end.

8:57 a.m. / 32km: I arrived at the Black Hill checkpoint. From here I just had to make it down the dreaded tar Black Hill road through Sun Valley and with a run/walk combo up the bottom winding section of Ou Kaapse into some crazy oncoming traffic. Just at the top of that section before Ou Wa pad, my crew was waiting for me with my trail shoes. I slapped those on, and munched on some Skittles. My feet felt weird in the shoes with some niggles under my feet but they went away.

Changing into trail shoes.
Changing into trail shoes.
9:50 a.m. / 39km: At this point we had to cross Ou Kaapse Weg, and make our way up the Old Wagon Trail. The initial section was a bit of walk, and the weather was beginning to get rather warm. Being at the halfway point, I had taken 4h30 minutes to get this far. I caught up with and briefly chatted with Justin Parker of the Mad2Run crew. I asked if he knew the shortcut which I said I would show him, but it turns out that there was a marshal anyway that helped us at the turning.

43 km: MTB parking
43 km: MTB parking
Winding up into the hills towards the mountain bike car park in Silvermine I was feeling a bit weird. I thought that I might faint but I didn't which is always a good thing. I was also feeling thirsty, but I couldn't stomach any more Roctane and I didn't have any water. Jogging down into the parking area I was still aware of my knee and I realized at this point it was probably there to stay. My gang was there to meet me and I topped up with snacks, drank some water and wet my head. It felt so good! I sucked down some cut oranges at the aid station and set off. Heading up towards the mast I felt like what I could only describe as a pins and needles type feeling in my chest. Kind of like an acid reflux feeling but I also thought maybe this what a heart attack felt like and that maybe I was going to die! I didn't so that was good. It's amazing what your mind will do to make you want quit!

C'Nek with the crew.
C'Nek with the crew.
11:56 a.m. / 48km. Finally I get to the mast and now it's the dreaded tar jog down the windy road. I did some run/walking again here because my knee wouldn't allow it. I eventually made it to the trail and made my descent down into Hout Bay. Run/walk the long jeep track to eventually get to Constantia Nek where my family and friends, Kenneth, Duncan and Dyllan were waiting to run with me on the last 20km of the route.

1:24 p.m. / 56km: I think I was feeling a little disoriented here, not too badly but I felt a bit clumsy and rushed. Posed for some photos, filled my water, and tried to eat something. (For future I must make sure my crew forces me to eat something as one cannot always rely on oneself to make good decisions when you've been running for a while.) Also still feeling bloated at this point. Then the four of us make our way up to the Overseers Cottage. The hike up was super slow as my heart rate kept on spiking quite quickly. The boys kept me company, telling jokes and helping me keep my mind off of the task of having to get to Maclear's beacon.

Near Maclear's. Looking back to see how far we had come.
Near Maclear's. Looking back to see how far we had come.

2:15 p.m. / 58km: At the Overseer's Cottage I sucked down some oranges, and began our run/walk power hike expedition along the Smuts track trail. Up ahead I see the height I still had to climb in order to reach Maclear's Beacon. It was pretty quiet up on the mountain with a slight breeze. I was grateful for the company because it would have been pretty lonely otherwise. I did however pass some people along the way and eventually after what felt like ages, we reached the beacon where my running club, Wild Runners, were manning the checkpoint. I had a nice chat with Allan Ryninks who was very encouraging and snacked on some cake that Hela Strez gave me.

Allan Ryninks at Maclear's.
Allan Ryninks at Maclear's.

At the bottom of Platteklip.
At the bottom of Platteklip.
From there we chugged along to the top of Platteklip Gorge. Although my right knee was pretty sore coming down, we were still managing to pass regular hikers which was quite encouraging. I did the old crab side shuffle for most of the big steps higher up, and was able to run down some of the shallower steps lower down. It was quite a sight to finally see the home stretch that lay ahead. Signal Hill in the late afternoon light was really beautiful. After about 40 minutes of descent we popped out onto the tar at the bottom greeted by lots of cheers from bystanders and my awesome support team.

My trusty spectators
My trusty spectators
Changing back into my road shoes.
Changing back into my road shoes.

4:45 p.m. / 67km: At the car, with the help of Chloe, I changed socks and put my road shoes on. They felt so amazingly soft in comparison to my trail pair. I took out my large water pack, and most of my food, and ran only with my hydration vest with some water in the front pouch. From there we made our way along Tafelberg Road, dropped down the little short cut, and made our way up Signal Hill. Half way along the hill my whole office was waiting for me where they had been chilling for most of the afternoon drinking gin and tonics. This was really awesome and I'm super grateful for their support...and their gin!

The office and their G&Ts.
The office and their G&Ts.

From there we made our way down the red carpet, snacking on a pancake as I went past the club (I forget who it was) manning the checkpoint. I passed some people heading around the canon, and another two dropping down Merriman Road. At this point you can practically see the finish and it is an awesome feeling. Cutting straight down the hillside through the streets I noticed another team was lost but we sneakily ran past. I felt bad, but the competition was on! Haha!

Crossing Somerset Road and under the circle we made a beeline straight for the finish. I noticed two more people coming up behind us and decided to give it one last "push" to the end. Everyone was waiting at the end with hugs and Steri Stumpies and photos. It was amazing. I almost passed out whilst photos were being taken but I lay down and my dad gave my feet a well needed massage.

Posing at the finish line.
Posing at the finish line.
Finish time of day: 5.55 p.m.

In the end the whole journey took 12h35min. Having started in the dark and ending with the sun setting knowing the distance you had just covered is truly special. I cannot wait until next year and I hope my knee holds out and I can manage a better time. All the support from the spectators and running clubs manning the water tables really made for a memorable experience which I'm super grateful to be a part of.

Distance: 75.2km
Elevation gain: 2778m
Elapsed time: 12:35:36
Pace: 10:02 min/km
Position: 90/135

Official Results
PUFfeR Facebook Page
Route Map

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Fundamentals of Lighting lesson 1.

Finally! I recently started another Schoolism course. The last time I did one was back in 2015 with Dice Tsutsumi and Roberto Kondo called Painting With Light and Color, which I found super beneficial. The one I started last week is called Fundamentals of Lighting by Sam Nielson.

Wow. I must say that this course is exactly what I needed. The first lesson Sam jumps right in with the Properties of Light and Advanced Lambertian Reflection, throwing in a bit of quantum probability for good measure. I won't go too deep with what lesson one covers, but rather show you how I tackled the homework assignment.

The assignment required that I paint and light a simple scene in greyscale. All that we were provided with was a basic line drawing and a light source, and it was up to us to render the final form. 

Below is my final image, after I went through and critted my previous test. The illustration is painted to Photoshop CS6.

Final painting.

Below is the scene I painted before I went through the critted lessons. From what I interpreted the shadow isn't particularly true to the light source which you can see in the image below. The "terminator" is also not very accurate.

First painting.

Following some of Sam's tips I created the light rays, and mapped in the shadows and their falloff as well as what I hope to be a more accurate terminator. The green line is where the terminator would more likely be situated, and the purple markings are an indication of the shadows.

Lighting guide.

I must just put out a disclaimer that I am doing the self-motivating subscription course, and my work isn't individually critted by Sam. The changes I did to my first pass were done by observing the crits to a fellow "classmates" artwork which are provided as part of the course material. 

Terminology and links:

Some of Sam's brushes: Linked from here and here.

Friday, 31 March 2017

"Adventure Time" Paint-over

Seeing as I haven't done any personal painting in a while, I thought I would have some fun and do a paint-over of a still from Adventure Time. The bottom image is the original. It had been some time since I tried something like this, and it was cool to see that I had learnt something since then. Would be fun to try some more like this.

The image was found here.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Cape Town International Animation Festival 2017

This past weekend in Cape Town was the Cape Town International Animation Festival at the River Club in Observatory. I was fortunate enough to be asked to speak on a panel about digital colouring with fellow artists Remi Abrahams and Caroline Vos on the Friday afternoon. The conversation was mediated by Neal Strydom from Pixelsmith Studios and centered around digital colouring and its place in the animation pipeline. 

On the Saturday I was a bit more relaxed after being a bit tense on the Friday before doing the talk, and was allowed the opportunity to demo the latest Wacom Cintiq 27qhd that Jim from DDS had on display. Man, that piece of equipment was so rad. It really puts my 24 inch ;) to shame!

It was really awesome to see such a super lineup of people attending and speaking at the festival, and I really believe Di Makings, and her team, did a superb job of putting it all together! Really amped for next year, but this one really set the bar quite high!

Photo by Carmen Ziervogel.

Hamming it up with Marc Moynihan at Content Bar's selfie booth ⊙﹏⊙