Monday, December 19, 2011

Ludum Dare: Barriers

Scott Washington, Ken Anderson, and I made a game in a weekend for the Ludum Dare challenge. All the games submitted to this weekend game jam were related to the theme, "Alone".
Our game, 'Barriers', can be found here. Please keep in mind this was entirely created in just one weekend. Everything from the overall idea for the game down to the art assets were created from scratch in those 2 days.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bust 'n' Rush Released!

I worked on this game at Techtonic Games and it just released last week. It's available on Gamersgate for PC and Mac at around $8 depending on whether or not you want it bundled with the soundtrack.

BNR around the web:
  • Latest trailer
  • Play the demo for free from this link.
  • Dev diary about randomly generated levels in BNR
  • Don't like the camera? This video explains that there are multiple camera angles
  • Rock Paper Shotgun reviews the demo

ps I just finished Skyrim after 200 hrs in game. I will now resume regular postings.

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Spider-Man Games Retrospective pt 5

    Spider-Man 3 (2007)
    To start with, this review is of the PS2 version which is naturally inferior to the next gen versions, but the game is still largely the same.
    This is the first game in my retrospective that is actually a disappointment, just like the movie with the same name. I was immediately confused by the opening cutscene and I had no idea what was going on when I started playing. Many features from the previous game aren't being carried over to these later games, like slingshot or the ability to web zip to ceilings with one button. There might be an argument for doing this from a game design perspective in order to simplify things, but as a player I feel gypped that I don't have the powers that I had in previous games. Shouldn't games build on what was already done? Not take parts away and redo the basics. Web-swinging is also a bit worse, which I've always said is the most fun part of these games.
    There are some new improvements that this game brings to the table: an upgrade menu to spend XP on new moves, and the player has influence over which gangs control parts of the city, and new villains that I haven't fought in the previously reviewed games. I'll go crazy if I have to fight Scorpion or Rhino one more time. The best thing is that I've been waiting a long time to finally get to play as Spider-Man wearing the Symbiote suite. 
    Example of a glitch.
    Spidey should be holding him in a fireman's carry.
    But back to the bad stuff: I have to deliver fruit pies? This is really what Spider-Man would spend his time doing? And then later we retrieve STOLEN fruit pies?! What is with all the fruit pies?  
    This game has is the poorest Spider-sense I've seen so far. You can barely see it on screen and it took me until the final boss fight to recognize the sound in time to dodge out of the way.  There's a lot of odd things in this game and I'm not sure if they're exactly bugs or just "by design." For instance, when Spidey retrieves a stolen stick of dynamite, he just hands it off to what looks like a random person on the street, not a cop in uniform or anything. "Here you go, citizen. I trust you'll turn this into the proper authorities and won't blow your arm off or anything!"  Gamefaqs has 125 different types of glitches counted for this game.  After I finished the game it immediately froze and I lost my progress. Maybe the next-gen console versions are a bit better.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Spider-Man Games Retrospective pt 4

    Ultimate Spider-Man (2005)
    Up to this point these games have only gotten better. But with this one I'm hesitant to say that it was better than the previous one. I also won't say that it was worse.
    I was surprised to find out that Treyarch released this only a year after the previous game. The main gameplay mechanics are very similar but the style of the game is in such a different direction. The previous two games had realism from the movies, but this game goes back to the comic books using animated comic panels and cel-shading that simulates an 'inking' feel.
    For clarity's sake, The Ultimate Spider-Man is not the regular Spider-Man that everyone's familiar with; it's is a modernized re-imagining of the hero as 15 year old high school student. [spoilers] ...who is currently deceased in the books and Miles Morales now wears the Spider-tights. (UGH, I dislike the idea of multiple Spider-Men)
    The guys who made the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, also headed this game. In the eyes of many comic fans, these guys can do no wrong. So it's cool that this game is made by people with passion for the Marvel characters and stories. The story kind of fits into the Ultimate comics, but most people won't notice the inconsistencies.
    Manhattan is again the playground for Spidey, but this time we also have access to Queens where the buildings are much shorter.
    Many gamers that aren't big Spider-Fans are turned off by the style and look of the game. I didn't try this game when it came out for that same reason. But now that I've given it a shot I regret that decision. Once you get passed the childish look and simplified controls (web swinging is no longer as intricate as the previous game) this is still fun to play, especially from a fans perspective because you can play as Venom, which is awesome and vicious (back-break move and eating people!). After playing for a few hours the style grew on me and I became impressed with how comic-book-y the cel shading looks. I'm surprised there aren't more superhero games using this technique. It'd make a sweet Deadpool game. Also the animated comic book panels were pretty cool, and they would sometimes show up during gameplay to kinda zoom in on something important, which is a cool way to show your player something they should know (instead of just putting a twinkle on it, via Resident Evil). One downside to this style is that much of the text is over enthusiastic. All the hints are really important! They definitely don’t overuse exclamation points!
    Side missions are still repetitive, but they're less annoying because there are no longer kids crying about their lost balloons. However, the resulting increase in reliance on the minimap takes away focus from the action in the middle of the screen. A couple of times the minimap even blocked the Spider-Sense so I couldn't tell that I was about to get smacked around.
    The game started off recapping the black suite in order to introduce Venom. I want to play as black suite Spider-Man because he’s much more powerful. But I can see why they wouldn’t want to give the player powers and then take them away for the rest of the game. Then the first thing you do when you start playing is face off against Venom, which is very intimidating if you are familiar to what’s going on here. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though.
    It’s Nerd Rage time: there’s a part in this game where Peter Parker is kickin around in his civvies, and nobody questions why he’s leaping 50 feet in the air in front of pedestrians, or doing other very Spider-Man-esque things. Also, racing the Human Torch? Not only extremely frustrating for the player, but why would any sensible grounded person race someone WHO CAN FLY?
    My favorite part of this game was [spoilers] …the fight of Wolverine vs Venom, controlled by the player.  For some unfathomable reason I’ve never pondered this battle before. It’s really a great matchup: Venom is nearly impervious to Wolverine’s attacks, and Wolverine can heal just about anything Venom can dish out. To my knowledge this hadn't been done before up to this point (or at least done well).
    Voice acting for Spider-Man in this game and the last two are bad. He sounds like a whiny little kid. I mean, he IS a kid, but he’s also a hero with the selfless determination and responsibilities, so in that way he’s more mature than most adults I know. The voice acting just doesn’t reflect that. Spider-Man is much more than funny quips now and again.
    Most unlockables aren’t worth mentioning, but this game had character sheets which I really appreciated as a game developer myself.

    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    Spider-Man Games Retrospective pt 3

    Spider-Man 2 (2004)
    The game based on the sequel to the film based on a comic book character. Sounds like a recipe for a disaster like Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game. But surprisingly this one is the best Spider-Man game for its time. I'm really digging how these games just keep getting better.
    This game really captures the fun of being Spider-Man, largely due to the greatly improved web swinging. In the stories, Peter Parker always goes out swinging to clear his head. And there's reason for that. It's awesome. The physics and realism put into swinging around a fully mapped out Manhattan really makes this game worth it. Not to mention that Spidey actually anchors his webs on buildings instead of just shooting them into the sky out of frame. And we FINALLY get to go down to street level, whereas in the previous games the player would die if they swing below a certain altitude (sometimes with no explanation).
    The menu system is greatly improved, and the dizzying effect that the previous game had is completely gone. The story follows the film pretty closely, with some additional characters from the comics thrown in, Black Cat being my favorite. My favorite actor Bruce Campbell returns to voice the sometimes-helpful narrator.
    On the bad side, the main story missions can be too challenging, the mini missions repetitive, and the animation gets really jittery up close. Spider-sense is used more in this game than the previous ones, but often times it doesn't give the player enough time to dodge. The game is set up in a sandbox style ala GTA III (2001), which was so successful I'd bet that Spider-Man 2 was basically saying, "Me too!" While that makes it great for web-slinging around the city and feeling like a hero for retrieving a kids balloon, the rest of the game just doesn't fill in the great empty hole that a sandbox game creates. There aren't that many main quests and there's only so many times I can repeat the same side quest where I have to beat up some thugs. On the positive side, I bet Spidey feels the same way about beating up thugs day in and day out.
    And lastly, I really appreciated the "Klattu Verata Nikto" line thrown in the Mysterio battle as a referrence to Army of Darkness (a film which the director of Spider-Man also made).

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Evil Dead: The Musical

    I'm volunteering backstage for Santa Barbara's version of the Evil Dead Musical which plays October 27th through 31st. I helped build some set pieces including the possessed trees. I got to use a power sander, jigsaw, and a circular saw. I don't get many chances to use power tools in my line of work. I'm also helping with bartending during the show.
    My history with this musical goes back to when it came down from Canada years ago. I entered an Ash costume contest and won first place, which was a ticket to the off-broadway show. Unfortunately that didn't include a plane ticket to New York so I couldn't go. I bought the soundtrack as soon as it came out and had all the songs memorized before I finally saw the show in Martinez. It eventually it came to Chico. Sadly I was too busy with my work to get involved with it then, so I'm very happy to have another chance at it.

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    Spider-Man Games Retrospective pt 2

    I skipped Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro because it looks like much of the same as the previously reviewed game, and it's a bit difficult to find since retail stores no longer carry Playstation one games.
    Spider-Man (2002)
    This Spider-man game has the look and [general] story of the first movie which came out the same year. I played this game when I was in high school at the peak of being a Spider-Fan. At the time, this was the best Spider-Man game available. The game mechanics are much the same as the previous game with improvements going along with the next generation (for the time) of consoles. This includes controlling the camera and air combat. The camera controls were much needed but not entirely polished, but I think many of the games at the time were struggling with this same thing. Web swinging and air combat are much more fun as you can go faster and spend whole levels without ever touching the ground. Horizontal zip lines are also new and add more speed to web-traveling. When it comes to webbing around it seems that more speed equals more fun. Graphics are improved and faces animate when talking. Also new to the series in this game is attack combos, which are neat but I didn't end up using them very much.
     The main menu makes me dizzy. The music is fast and all the words pulse strongly. It makes me antsy to chose an option just to get out of the menu. The harsh reds and blacks are also not very welcoming.
    Learning how to play the games is a lot of fun for me personally because Bruce Campbell narrates and I'm a big fan of the Evil Dead series (which the director of Spider-Man also made). The secret unlocks are plenty, but not as good as the previous game. I think that's because it was geared toward the movie stuff, and that doesn't stand the test of time as well as the content geared toward the comics.
    I mentioned in my last review how I enjoyed the explanation for killing the player if he descends too low while web-swinging in the open city. In this game there is no explanation, so my inner nerd is asking why Spidey can't go down to street level.
    The music is sometimes too epic and it loops the same song (a personal pet peeve). In the beginning of the game I turned it down because I was just walking around, not really deserving of epic music.
    AI, as usual, is a bit dumb. In the sewer level the thugs chasing me ran right into the death water like lemmings.
    I think it's funny when I find empty rooms with no purpose or if it just houses a single switch. Ahh, environment art and deadlines, what terrible foes you are.
    One thing I've always wondered about the physics of Spider-Man: how does he zipline? His web shooters would have to suck the webbing back at super speeds. And In the movie he has organic webshooters ...that seems like it would hurt.
    Another thing that I wonder about, the player can press a button to shoot web and it drains the web bar, but if it's drained you can still shoot webbing.
    One level had a "super mech" in Oscorp, which struck me very similar to Rex in Metal Gear Solid. This isn't a bad thing for me personally because I love that game series.

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Bust N Rush trailer

    Bust N' Rush is the game we've been developing at Techtonic Games in Santa Barbara. We just finished a 10-day crunch and submitted to the Independent Games Festival. This is the first time we've publicly given out any info on our game.
    Soon we will have a playable demo, so keep on the lookout for that.

    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    Spider-Man Games Retrospective pt1

    Now that I’m done with school I can play all the games I put off.  I’m going to play through the Spider-Man series starting with the Playstation version.  This Spidey retrospective won’t be comprehensive, but I’ll cover most of the [good] games.
     Spider-Man (2000)
                    The year 2000 saw the first 3D Spider-Man game. Since the movies hadn’t come out yet, the style of the game is from the animated series from the 90’s, which I grew up watching. Stan Lee narrates, giving it the comic book vibe too. This game is old school Playstation graphics so it’s got the claw-hands and the static faces (with the exception of venom whose jaw opens and closes).

                    The game is geared towards kids and fans of the comics. Even the controls are optionally dumbed down to “kid mode” which simplifies web-slinging. Several bits are for fans, like variant costumes, storyboards, comic covers, and cameos from other Marvel superheroes.
    The thing I always enjoyed about this game as a teenager was that the design limitations of the city areas were written into the plot. If Spidey drops below a certain altitude he dies. Fog blocked the player’s view of the streets below, which could not have been done very well at the time.  [SPOILERS] This fog is explained in the plot: it was released by Doc Ock in order to prepare the citizens of New York for being taken over by Symbiotes. Explaining design limitations with plot elements is awesome and neat to me.
    Bugs sometimes make the game difficult or easy, such as the boss Scorpion being unable to pass through a doorway and the player can safely take pot shots at him from a distance. There is no control over the camera so the player is often frustrated by attacking enemies off screen and sometimes ends up facing the wrong direction. And then there’s nothing more frustrating than  running around a health pickup in circles because you’re fighting the controls. 3D games were still growing up at this point, so these flaws are somewhat understandable in hindsight, but downright unacceptable by today’s gaming standards.
    The ending cutscene is cheesy (even for a comic book game), where Spidey, Capt America, Daredevil, and Punisher are playing cards at a table. First of all, why play cards in costume? I know Spidey has a secret identity, but there’s nothing stopping Frank or Steve from wearing street clothes. Whatever, it’s a game. But Daredevil and Punisher NEVER get along and could not sit at a table peacefully together long enough to play cards. See this fan film as an example:
    Ps I’m pretty sure that while chasing down Spider-Man, the NY police were straight up destroying buildings using military-grade attack helicopters in this game. That level is kinda awkward in a post 9/11 world.

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    The Emmys

    In the The 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards of 2011 I was a Matte Painter. My 'happy' fantasy painting was used as a background for a shot in the opening segment hosted by Jane Lynch. Below you'll see a screenshot with my work in the background. Here is a link to the art:

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011


    Techtonic Games Inc was in a few local articles which can be found here: the First Noozhawk article
    and the Second Noozhawk article
    They both have a few errors, like the part where it incorrectly states that we're competing with Zynga. But it's the first press we have received, and it's got a picture of us.
    The Techtonic website is under construction. Link will be available soon.
    There will be news on the game in September. (Yay!)

    Regretfully I still am unable to post work of what I've been doing. However, before my job started at Techtonic, I did some work with the nice guys at Nakai Entertainment on Ninja Hamster Rescue, a mobile game which has a free demo. Check it out and fight some evil samurai cats.

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011


    The previous entries concerning the art test (matte painting, sprites, UI design) went well. I am now employed at Techtonic Games in Santa Barbara.
    I'm ten minutes from the beach and I go a couple times a week. The job pays well and provides benefits. I don't say that I'm happy often in my life, mostly I've coasted on neutral/apathetic, but now I truly couldn't ask for more. I have a large room and live in a nice quiet neighborhood. We live right next to a creek. The office is even super close to my apartment.
    Everything is settled in and we're all having fun. It's awesome working with powerful machines and the right equipment to develop games in a professional setting.

    Relentless Dungeon is still on the To Do List, but Scott and I are just too busy at the moment. It also needs some help from a programmer (nudge nudge programmer buddies).

    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.

    Saturday, March 26, 2011

    T'ocs Ihsaw

    The final monster of Relentless Dungeon, is Scott Washington, the game's creator.
    I was told to draw full plate armor, and I focused on the larger pieces so the layered plates didn't too closely resemble the overlapping scales on the Lizardman. I believe the muscled breastplate is Roman.  Scott's D&D character wears an intimidating skull mask like T'ocs. Though I tried desperately to avoid similarities between my monsters that went beyond common style, I enjoy T'ocs skull mask as a throwback to the Skeleton monster. T'ocs is such a tough SOB that he'd take part of another monster as a trophy/armor.

    Influences: Vlad's armor in Bram Stoker's Dracula, glass armor in TES Oblivion, Juggernaut Armor in Dragon Age: Origins, Ned Kelly

    Here's T'ocs without the mask, with Scott's face underneath:

    Hsa Newo

    One of the final bosses to the upcoming game Relentless Dungeon.
    Like the previous monster, this one is based on a real person: me. We used 'Ash' as a first name because 'Will' doesn't sound backwards. I'm a big fan of Evil Dead so that's where the 'Ash' comes from, also the sword that looks oddly like a chainsaw and the straps around Hsa's chest. I've made my own chainmail shirt so the dungeon monster version of me wears it. The bandana is a reference to both Metal Gear Solid (my favorite game) and Humans vs Zombies, the game of tag that I brought to Chico State. The bandana led me to add a Ninja Turtles-style belt buckle with my initial on it.

    I'm really unhappy with the pose, the face, and pants. But we must keep moving forward.

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Nhoj Ra Lio

    This is basically my friend John Oilar in hide armor, with his permission. I drew him as his D&D character, Whisp, who is a shaman shifter in 4th edition. In order to keep his features recognizable I had to cut back on the shifter bit, which would've made him hairy and look a bit like a werewolf. Since I made a Gnoll, which is basically a were-hyena, I didn't really want to add a whole lot of body hair. Nhoj Ra Lio spelled backwards is "oiL aR johN" or "Oilar, John."

    Influences: 300, Wulfgar from the Drizzt books, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Conan, Barbarian from the Diablo series.

    Thursday, March 24, 2011


    One of the toughest monsters in the upcoming Relentless Dungeon.
    Finally I draw a dragon, the monster that must be included in any dungeon crawler. As always, Dungeons and Dragons was a heavy influence. Another influence was Dragon Age.
    I put effort into making the dragon look different than the other winged monsters I've drawn for the game, but still trying to keep the same style and feeling.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011


    Counting down the days to the release of Relentless Dungeon with the final pieces of art for the game.
    This is the Demon, references used were traditional representations of a devil and Orcus from D&D.
    This is the only monster I drew with classic uplighting which gives a dramatically sinister look. It's a bona fide horror trick but runs the risk of being cliche so I only used the technique for one monster.
    Notice the subtle pentagram on his forehead.
    Influences: Legend (film), goats, bats, HHH (wrestler), W.O.W., satyr.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Every 36 Hours update

    The updates are on pause while the rest of my life resumes. I'm updating all the art done so it's good to go in-game (now re-named 'Relentless Dungeon'). Turns out I DID end up needing cast shadows on the floor for the monsters after all [Evan may now proceed to say, "I told you so"].
    Much appreciation to you all reading this right now. Thanks for your interest in me and my work.
    You'll see more monsters soon, culminating in the release of Relentless Dungeon.


    Wednesday, March 9, 2011


    Consider this about advice:
    "Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth."

    I'm open to critique on my art, and other artists should be too because nobody ever reaches perfection. Though every statement has to be taken with a grain of salt.
    I see many students and graduates trying to figure out where to go from here.  Some give advice without being asked for it. Some follow advice because they can't make decisions for themselves. Some flounder for too long because someone gave them some bad advice. I'm a supporter of taking time alone to think about what it is you really want and weigh the value of everything else, without any other person's influence. Because it's your life, not theirs.

    Detestation: The Exploding Man

    This is a monster drawn for project 'Every 36 Hours' and will be including in the next Scott Washington indie game.
    This was another monster designed from scratch. I call him simply, 'Mushroom Cloud Man.'
    Influences: 'Splosion Man, Human Torch from Fantastic Four, Vecna from D&D.

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011


    A multi-headed hydra doesn't really have a distinct biology, so I went with an easy-to design amorphous blob body to the point of nearly being Lovecraftian. Having all the heads be identical is visually boring to me, so I made each head a pop culture reference. Except the top two heads which I used to attempt to illustrate the hydra nature of growing two heads out of a cut off stump.
    I'm amused by the thought of the heads bickering with each other, and I'd imagine Ghidorah is the most antagonizing of them all.

    Friday, March 4, 2011


    I realized all of my monsters were male (or very male-like) and I don't want to be sexist, so here is the first female monster for Scott Washington's upcoming indie game.
    Throughout this project I've been focusing on lighting techniques. Here I started with the red rim light from the top/club side, then I rendered the blue key light from the bottom/other side. When not using side light I'll render objects as if there's just a front fill light.
    I tried to stay more to the Oni of Japanese folklore more than the D&D or any other demon, even though my version is a woman. The club she's wielding is a kanabo, a japanese club. I just realized I forgot to make the end half iron instead of wood, which I think is okay for readability considering the small size of the art. I hear there's a saying, "like giving a kanabo to an oni," which would kind of be like giving Wolverine from X-Men the ability to shoot lasers out of his eyes.
    I've also been trying to put a uni-brow on one of my monsters for a while now.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    The Torment

    An original monster for Every 36 Hours. I tried to make it more gross than scary, but the boss says he looks too sad. If it could speak instead of try to kill/eat/infect you it would probably say, "Please... *choking sound* ...kill me."
    I've been focusing on improving my shading/lighting techniques and this time I started with the rim light, which I normally do last. This made the light follow the contours of the body instead of just outlining the edge of the monster. I also made it a dark green when in the past monsters it has been near white.
     Influences: D&D, Frankenstein, Zalgo


    The design was much more loose this time because I wasn't concerned with any preconceived notions of what is a "Phantasm" or it being recognizable by the audience. Instead I just worked with an idea in my mind of a sinister and ominous figure with a ghost-like presence. The result is a bit more cartoon-ish than I'd like, but I need to move on to the next monster as quickly as possible.
    If you look closely he's kind of wearing a tie.

    Influences: Phantasm, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Phantasm from Teen Titans, Candlejack from Freakaz...

    Monday, February 28, 2011


    The ogre enemy for Every 36 Hours, and will be including in Scott Washington's next indie game. 

    This one was a bit tricky. Instead of focusing on getting the most ogre-like ogre, I tried to make sure I made all the features different than my other monsters.

    I put a little drool on his mouth. My first idea was to have caked layers of dried drool like Jabba the Hutt, but that was too much detail to be readable in-game.

    What's more gross than back hair? Neck beard. It's not as visible as I'd like, but the ogre kept pushing me around, the big bully.

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    The Orc

    The latest monster for the upcoming Scott Washington indie game, Relentless Dungeon (formerly Infinite Dungeon, and also MinMax Dungeon).
    By far the largest reference folder of all the monsters. Orcs, in my opinion, are the most popular monster in the fantasy genre, so I used many resources versions of what an orc should be. He's pretty bulky like the orcs in Warhammer, but if any monsters took steroids, it'd be the war-obsessed orcs. Chainmail is a chore to draw. I purposefully made him wear the chainmail incorrectly, as an orc might be too stupid to know the rows should lay horizontally to efficiently distribute the impact of a blow. I have been dissatisfied with my lighting for all of the past monsters, so I tried to go about it differently on this one.

    Influences: as usual my two most important resources for the monster is Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons. Secondary to those for the Orc is Warcraft and Warhammer. My personal favorite influence is Stan Nicholls' Orcs novels.
    Tolkien orc traits used: long-armed, filthy, bow-legged, and sallow-skinned.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011


    #4 out of 20 monsters for Every 36 Hours. I spent longer than usual on this one as I went through a few iterations of what my lizard-man would look like.

    I tried to keep him different from the other monsters. The goblin was a yellow green so I kept the lizardman a bluer-green. The lizardman walks on the soles of his feet as several of my other monsters already walked on toes or were fully digitigrade. I colored the center parts dull grays because yellow is overdone for reptilian monsters, like the Ninja Turtles. I'm not satisfied with my decision to have scales on the lower half and spots on the upper half.

    As I describe him to my roommate:
    Me: "Half man, half lizard. All danger."
    Jason: "But what about when it's cold out?"
    Me: "..."

    Influences: Argonian from Oblivion, Kobolds and lizardfolk from D&D, Killer Croc from Batman, Gorn from Star Trek.

    Saturday, February 19, 2011


    #3 in Every 36 Hours. 2 hours in Photoshop (and I know it shows).
    My fastest monster yet, a simple bat. Nuthin' fancy. Just wanted to get it done and move onto something [more] exciting.

    There's a bit of transparency in the wings. Brown and blue side lights.


    #2 in project Every 36 Hours. 6 hours in Photoshop and a few for research.
    I don't think the spikes on the back really do anything for it, though the bubbles next to them I think give a gross look. The hair on the tail is easily confused with the spiky segments which were supposed to be a bit like a xenomorph tail. I would've liked a more battle-ready pose, though this pose is true to it's ratty character.
    Rat traits (opposite of mouse): big feet, wide muzzle, small ears, wide head.
    Influences: Ratigan from Great Mouse Detective, Pinky and the Brain, Templeton from Charlotte's Web, dire rat from Dungeons and Dragons, Aliens.

    Initial sketch development for the rat:

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011


    Art asset for Scott Washington's upcoming indie game, Relentless Dungeon. 19 more monsters to go. This is the first entry of my "Every 36 Hours" crunch project where I draw a monster every 36 hours for month.
    5 hours spent painting in Photoshop, and a couple hours on research.
    A gnoll is a half man half hyena. I wanted to significantly tell a gnoll apart from a werewolf, and so had to research a bit of hyena biology (thanks Wikipedia). My first idea was to emphasize the legs, but that gave a centaur/satyr vibe or silly parachute pants. I made a list of important hyena distinguishing features: spots, 'mohawk' (mane at withers), and a Cheshire cat style grin. Hyenas are primarily feline with canine features, but there were some werewolf traits I wanted to avoid: whites of the eyes, pointy ears, and a long snout. The ears also couldn't be too rounded or it might look like a rat. Other hyena traits I used: back slopes down toward croups with limited movement for the backbone, short hind legs, a thick/short neck, short facial portions, digitigrade (walking on toes, longer middle of foot), claws are short and blunt, fur is coarse and sparse, an additional pair of ribs, biggest teeth are shifted back (especially the uppers). I thought about having a tongue hanging out but decided that was too lovable. I think I need better shadows and I went a bit too overboard with the blue side light in the feet area, but I must move on. It's never perfect.

    Initial sketch for the gnoll.

    I can't really explain what made this one go so well. I hit a groove with the initial pass and just flew loose and quick. This one was a lot of fun.

    Influences: Lion King, Gmork from NeverEnding Story, and the gnolls from D&D and World of Warcraft.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Every 36 hours

    Crunch time. 20 art assets in a month. I need to get a drawing done every day and a half.
    In related news, Scott Washington's Infinite Dungeon will probably get renamed. Tentative release date for late March.
    Stay tuned.