“Hello and welcome to the show,” says robot Bob Ross. “I’m your host, B.O.B. R055.” Today B.O.B. R055 and I are going to be learning how to draw a black square on a white background.
Now, as someone who used to work in an art store which sold Bob Ross art supplies and videos I must say my memories of non-robot Bob Ross have him muttering his way through paintings of forest trees rather than taking on the work of Malevich. Non-robot Bob Ross also didn’t host The Rage of Painting, nor had he been created as part of a month-long game jam on the Something Awful forums themed around public access television.
We’ve spoken about that game jam on here before, thanks to 2:22AM, but for some reason The Rage of Painting crept under the radar.
What you’re aiming to do in the game is to follow along with B.O.B R055’s increasingly taxing art tutorials aiming to replicate whatever he’s creating in a limited timeframe. You are unlikely to be able to produce a perfect copy because, as B.O.B. explains, “you are a weak arcane machine made of fat and proteins”. Also because the scoring system seems pretty arbitrary and I got full marks from one judge for leaving the canvas blank.
The reason I bring it up, though, isn’t to be glib but because the image in the final tutorial – a pretty complicated rendering of a Kerbal posing in front of an explosion – reminded me that this method can actually produce some not-terrible images.
There’s an exercise in a book called Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain which gets you to practice drawing using an upside-down picture of Igor Stravinsky. The point is that your brain struggles to interpret upside-down images and thus you start drawing the lines and shapes you actually see. The exercise is about switching off the interference you get from pre-existing knowledge. It feels like a similar process with The Rage of Painting (if you don’t use the button which tells you what the finished image should look like).
There is a slim chance that I’m reading far too much into The Rage of Painting, but played straight-faced it could – at the very least – lead to some vaguely recognisable Kerbal portraits. I mean just LOOK at my vaguely recognisable Kerbal.
If you have a go at B.O.B. R055’s tutorials you should definitely let me know how you get on. In the meantime I will be hoping for an expanded version which teaches me how to make blotchy renditions of all the Dota heroes.