Friday, June 05, 2015

That GCSE Maths question

I saw reports of a "twitter storm" last night about a maths GCSE exam being particularly difficult. The only question I saw in the tweets was n^2-n-90=0. This took me about 10 seconds to solve in my head. However, it later transpired that the full question was as follows (the colours may have been swapped, but the question remains the same):

Hannah has a bag with n sweets in it.
6 of the sweets are orange, the rest are yellow.
She takes one sweet from the bag, it is orange.
She takes another sweet from the bag, it is also orange.
The chances of taking 2 orange sweets from the bag is 1/3.
Prove that n^2-n-90=0

Now, I have to admit at 10pm I couldn't answer the question. I knew how to answer the question, but the time and the fact that I was 1/2 watching a re-run of QI meant I wasn't giving it my full attention.

This morning the same twitter storm was reported on the BBC website, so I thought I would give the problem a proper try. It took me less than 2 minutes. Now admittedly I have 2 math's O levels (that might give you the clue that I sat them in 1983 and 1984 respectively), maths A level and a degree in computer science, that involved some maths. However I haven't had to solve a quadratic equation for at least 25 years (to the point that I just had to use Google to remember the words "quadratic equation".)

Friday, August 16, 2013

I Am A: True Neutral Human Ranger/Bard

I Am A: True Neutral Human Ranger/Bard (3rd/3rd Level)

Ability Scores:

True Neutral A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.
Primary Class:
Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter's dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.
Secondary Class:
Bards often serve as negotiators, messengers, scouts, and spies. They love to accompany heroes (and villains) to witness heroic (or villainous) deeds firsthand, since a bard who can tell a story from personal experience earns renown among his fellows. A bard casts arcane spells without any advance preparation, much like a sorcerer. Bards also share some specialized skills with rogues, and their knowledge of item lore is nearly unmatched. A high Charisma score allows a bard to cast high-level spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Monday, October 08, 2012

Drawing hands and faces

A handful of drawing tutorials:

Tips for drawing: hands 101 from Animator Island.
Hand tutorial/tips2 by Quinni at Deviantart.
Notes on expressions from Lackadaisy.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Another Kickstarter

Here's another Kickstarter project for your delectation:


I played Dungeons and Dragons in the 80's and have just started picking up the Pathfinder game from Paizo Publishing. I also played Everquest and World of Warcraft so I'm interested to see what a company with a background in tabletop gaming can bring to the MMO world.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More Comics Stuff

Following on from the last post, a quick link to Mick McMahon's process for his Tank Girl pages.

And I've been digitally remastering the pages of my 1990's comic Section 6, tidying up the wonky frames and re-lettering.

Issue 2 page 3 (Remastered)Issue 2 page 4 (Remastered)

And creating all new, all digital pages from the thumbnails that were never turned into pages.

Section 6 Issue 3 page 1Section 6 Issue 3 page 2


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Comics stuff

I've been a fan of comics for as long as I can remember. I started off as a kid with Buster, moved on to Battle and then 2000AD. Moving to London aged 17 I fell in with a bad crowd and got onto the hard stuff - Watchmen and V for Vendetta. I've never really been a fan of the Superhero comic, most of the comics I read ended up in the DC Vertigo line, so I suppose they would be classed as horror. For some reason I always preferred DC and didn't really get into any Marvel lines and I seemed to gravitate towards English writers, although that maybe because there was such an explosion of talent in the mid-80s and early 90s.

In the late 80's I started collecting original comic artwork, thanks mostly to the now defunct Comic Showcase store on Neal Street. I think my first purchase was a blue line from V for Vendetta.

V for Vendetta, original artwork Judge Dredd, original artwork

In the mid 90's a wrote and drew my own tongue in cheek, derivative comic. 8 whole pages of Section 6, a superhero team of inept squatters. It was actually published in a small press anthology, but all 8 pages were shrunk to 1 side of A5 which didn't really do it justice (or maybe it did). I'm planning to put together an "Absolute" edition of the comic for my friends who were featured in it.

Issue 2 page 1 Issue 1 page 3

Anyway, to the point of this post. I follow quite a few comic artists on Twitter and in the last 2 days I saw a couple of links I felt I needed to share. David Peterson, author and artist of the fantastic Mouseguard comics (@mouseguard on Twitter) posted on his blog about his process. It's a fascinating and educational look at one artist's methods.

Neill Cameron, author and artist for Mo-Bot High (@neillcameron on Twitter) posted a link to a Disney "Comic Strip Artist's Kit". The Disney kit has been around for over 35 years but is just as relevant today.

As to my process, looking back at the sketches from about 15 years ago it appears to be: Make a doodle during a particularly boring meeting at work; base whole comic around single doodle. I did actually do thumbnails of each page, although they sometimes differed radically from the finished page. I definitely didn't plan how much text was going to go in each panel. In fact, in order to fit the text in and make it readable, after drawing the comics on A4 paper I photocopied them and blew them up to A3, re-inked them and then created text panels and speech bubbles on another sheet of paper, cut them out and glued them onto the A3 pages.

Layout for issue 2 page 3 Issue 2 page 3

If you're interested in creating comics I recommend Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud and How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema. There are lots of other good books out there too.

If you have children and you want to get them into comics and reading, check out The Phoenix Comic, a great new comic for kids with some of the top UK writers and artists working on it, which includes Neill Cameron's How to Make Awesome Comics.

For a taster of comic talent in the UK now you should read Nelson edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix, a completely brilliant anthology. 54 British comic artists come together to write the story of Nel, from 1968 to the present day with each artist tackling 1 day in the life of Nel for each year of her life.

In other comics news, DC have announced a slew of Watchmen prequels. Hrrm.


Monday, December 05, 2011

The Firelight Isle

Paul Duffield, artist extraordinaire of online comic FreakAngels, is starting a project for a new online comic The Firelight Isle. The project is looking for funding on Indiegogo:

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