Friday, May 6, 2011

"Happy" Matte Painting

Double rainbow. Giant mushrooms. Fairies. Palm trees. A clear beach. Floating islands. Sci-Fi skyline. Yeah, I don't need to draw chainsaws and zombies all the time. ...Boo-ya.

 One of the largest resolution paintings I've done, and was made for an art test to a video game studio. They knew I can do gritty horror art well and they wanted to see me try something happy. This was the result. My initial thought was to try a field of grass with bunnies and big flowers. Instead I went with a more fantasy style environment with a tad of surrealism. I took some time with my eyes closed listening to prog rock and imagining a sunny-fantasy-happy world.

Influences: Led Zeppelin (can you guess which song?), South Park s12e3, Heavy Metal, Venture Bros e42, Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz.

Photoshop brushes used:,,

Thursday, May 5, 2011


This is one of the sprites I created for the art test for a job at a video game studio. I had to draw a sword at low resolution, and I jumped at the chance to draw a weapon we've been using in my D&D 4e campaign.

This is Blackrazor, a magic evil intelligent sword from Dungeons & Dragons that eats souls.  Blackrazor is likely insipired by Stormbringer from the Elric books by Michael Moorcock.  Blue Öyster Cult made a song about it, "Black Blade."

I think I went a little crazy with the jagged edges and lightning. Blackrazor just took control of my mind and forced me to do it.

Lightning brushes from

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

TGI Art Test

These are small pieces I did for an art test while applying to a video game studio back in March along with the UI design.
I had to draw a magic potion. What's more established than the health potion? I debated on whether or not to include the label because it blocks the view of most of the liquid in the bottle, so I made an additional potion without a label, and made it a bit more evil looking.

Things I learned on this project: Select > Color range. I was trying to save the file as a .png to have a transparent background, but the problem was that I had a layer with a black background set to 'screen' under the blending mode. So black would disappear if I had a solid background, but would come back if I had no background. I learned the color range technique and played with the fuzziness so it didn't have the awful leftover dark gray bits when I applied a layer mask to the selection. Much faster than erasing it all by hand, and more accurate than the magic wand tool.

Next was to draw a tree. I wasn't interested in drawing a happy lollipop tree because I imagine that's what everyone else will turn in. So I drew a twisted dead tree that reminds me of Sleepy Hollow and Fern Gully.

I felt I might be cheating the test by not drawing a tree with leaves, so I drew another tree with green leaves this time. I'm a fan of Karate Kid, and this is recognizable being inspired by the Bonsai tree from that movie.

The treasure chest.
I'm not very satisfied with the golden glow from the gold coins inside. Perhaps I should've opened the lid more or made it more sparkle-y than glow-y.

Simple. Established. Not much more to say here, let's move on.

Last up for the sprite art test is a battered warrior's shield.  I wanted to show some kind of perspective instead of just a flat simple shield facing forward directly at the viewer, because I just knew that's what most of the other people applying for this job were going to do.

My First UI Design

I created my own version of Tetris UI for iPhone. This was made for an art test at a video game studio. This is one of the first User Interfaces I've ever done.
Painted in Photoshop in only one day.  This was made back in March, but I couldn't post this until May. Tetris is a pretty ancient game so I went with that theme. I think Stone Henge frames it nicely. This is one of the first times I've used vignetting.

A previous draft is on the right. I personally like the paper texture, but it doesn't work in the design. The 'Next' block looks like a neon sign which is not good. The magic rune brushes are from Something I learned how to do on this project: Outer Glow under layer style.

I do not own Tetris, nor is this an official product of Tetris.
Tetris ® is owned by Tetris Holding.

Dragon Age II

(This review may contain some spoilers)
Streamlining and simplification is understandable, but so much of the gameplay was slimmed down that it may feel like playing a DA game made for children. One part from the first game involves gathering resources for making potions, which is so simplified in the sequel that the player may as well just go to the shop to buy potions because making them is basically the same thing.

The maps are another issue of contention. The areas for side quests are all very short, and often reused several times. There were a few dungeons in Origins that took a very long time, giving a sense of accomplishment to the player when they reach the end of the dungeon with a full inventory and the final piece to a legendary suit of armor the player's been collecting.

Speaking of armor, there's no longer item slots for companion's armor. In the first game it was enjoyable to pass suits of armor to companions when finding better armor. Instead the player now can either sell or store in a chest that armor that he grew so attached to wearing, never to be seen again.
The sequel's story also doesn't live up to the epic feeling of the first game where the world was at stake, and the player was the only person capable of stopping the great evil in time. The player traveled across the land gathering armies. Now in the sequel the bulk of the story takes place in and around one city, with the focus being on the political workings of that one place. A few cut-scenes allude to tying the workings of the city to the larger world of Dragon Age, but that doesn't give the player a sense of importance and conflict on the scale the first game had. Moral decisions presented to the player are great, but they often don’t have a sense of impact or importance besides who stays and who goes in your party. There were plot threads from the other game left hanging in the sequel. Where is Morrigan’s archdemon-child? What are the sentient darkspawn up to?
Towards the end of the game there ends up being an event that will impact the larger world of Dragon Age. The majority of the play time before that event has the player under the impression that what’s happening isn't that important because it’s just this one city. It’s important to be aware of the gravity of the story from the start so the player knows what they’re fighting for.

Dragon Age 2 has a rare large gap between negative reviews from players and positive reviews from critics and game developers.   Maybe it's a case of fans loving the first game and getting attached but then being unwilling to accept any changes. I'm sure all the suspense and horror movie fans weren't thrilled when they went to see Aliens expecting what they saw in the first Alien movie.  It's difficult for fans to accept that many changes when the game allows importing your saved data from the previous Dragon Age. Decisions made previously will reflect in the world of DA2. Allowing that function makes the players expect to see the same world from before …at the very least have the race of Qunari look similar to what they did in the past game.

Streamlining the game got rid of what made many players interested in the first game. All complaints aside, the game remains enjoyable.