Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where to Start With Game Art

I was tweeted the following question today, and while I'm still fairly new to game art, here's a little of what I've learned in the last-two-and-a-bit years. There's a heap to learn with game art, so it's best (and sometimes hard) to remember - "baby steps". (Also, "better done than perfect".)

My daughter is thinking college with art for video games. Any type of suggestions?

The answer to a question like this is going to depend on a couple of factors. From the jump, does she have a preference for 2D or 3D game art? The two basic skills - drawing and modeling - overlap in a number of areas, but I know modelers that don't draw, and a great many 2D artists that have no interest in learning 3D (the technical and financial barriers to entry can make it very frustrating at the outset.)

There are great (and lousy) schools for each path, though as a note, sometimes when a college advertises a game course, what they're referring to is game design, not game art. Here's a handful of schools and workshops that pop immediately to mind, though I haven't personally attended, and as such can't speak to the quality or the nature of their programs.

Gnomon -
Future Poly -
Full Sail -
DigiPen -
Think Tank (Canada) -
Vancouver Film School (Canada) -

I found my college experience worthwhile (opted for a one year computer animation program to learn the basics of 3D modeling) in that I was surrounded by students discovering things at the same time I was. There's a level of lovely camaraderie that can form when you're cramming in Maya/Max/XSI on last minute demo reels, and I've since worked with a number of my fellow grads in a professional setting.

With that said, there are a number of online courses that might serve as a good starting point. Gnomon, as mentioned above, has professionally produced DVDs on one-shot subjects (concept art, character design, etc) that are generally excellent. YouTube has scads of user created videos for free (Zbrush artist Ryan Kingslien has a whole channel devoted to learning Zbrush - but the quality can vary, and sometimes the information is outdated.

All of this is diving really deep into the pool though. If she'd like to do game art, keeping a sketchbook is one of the best bets, posting her work online (tumblr, DeviantArt, Polycount, Zbrush Central, etc) and getting helpful crits never hurts.

...usually doesn't hurt.

...sometimes hurts a lot.

 I'm still relatively new to game art, but thankfully the internet is full of artists who are lovely and talented willing to help out. Also, if she needs some inspiration, here's my latest favourite bit of character art from JFletcher on Polycount:

PS -  Sculptris is a free modeling program, Blender is as well.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The IGF and GDC and OMG

On Monday we (aka the Fullbright Company, aka Johnnemann, Karla, Steve, Marc and I) found out that Gone Home's been nominated for an award at the Independent Games Festival - The 'Excellence In Narrative' award to be particular about it. (Thank you judges!) I tried to sweep the cat into a celebratory, platonic embrace, but dude was having none of it. Dude just wanted me to know it was past Turkey n'Gravy o'clock, and pushed his paw in my mouth. Right in there.

Gone Home's on the list with four games, two of which I've played and loved (dys4ia, Kentucky Route Zero) and two of which I've only ever heard glowing things about. (Cart Life, Thirty Flights of Loving) but are due to be played in the very near future.

 I've never been to the Game Developer's Conference before, and I'm looking forward to it in a huge way. But also there is anxiety. The other day I sent Steve G. a couple of instant messages hand wringing about what to wear, and what if I say something dumb, so if I talk to you at GDC please speak in soothing, quiet tones like you would if you met a bear on a trail.

"Shhh, it's okay. You just go back to eating those blueberries, and I'll head back down this way, no biggie."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gone Home

Last month I decided to part ways with Exploding Barrel, my then place of employment, to work on a number of things which I'd mean meaning to focus on for a few years. I have a deep love of narrative and character development in games - mobile/social games, no matter how well made by lovely people, haven't really explored that angle to the same extent as PC/console games have.

Which is why, when the Fullbright Company asked if I might like to make some cool stuff with them, I was all, "Yes. Yes I would like that very much."

The Fullbright Company consists of Karla Zimonja, Johnnemann Nordhagen and Steve Gaynor as the core team, and they're making a game called Gone Home, which is an abandoned house exploration game. It's really cool. The game takes place in 1995, and you roll in in the middle of the night to an empty home. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out what happened to the family that should, by all accounts, be there.

The dev blog is super interesting so far - Steve, Karla and Johnnemann have been writing some great posts if you're at all interested in the ins and outs of how a game gets made. Here are a handful of furniture pieces I did for the game. The lighting/mountain painting/books I can't take credit for.

Comic wise, it was my original intent to have Float (mentioned in an earlier post) done mid August, but with so many things on the go and a wedding next month, it's going to be delayed a few months. I'm still working away on it when I can. Here's a handful of panels! Where Emily C. stir fries her comics up in record time, mine go in the crock pot for some slow cookin'.

PS - On the character development front, Telltale's Walking Dead game is fantastic so far. I'm horrible-slow at hitting buttons quickly, so I'm little more than a spectator for this one, but it's one of those rare games that has you thinking about it post-play. Thoughtfully made, highly recommended. Telltale, you're great.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comics! Two of them!

Awhile back both Emily C. and myself were approached about doing some work for a pocket sized comic anthology entitled 'Little Heart'. It's being put together to create awareness for an upcoming vote happening in Minnesota with regards to same sex marriage.

I'm not from Minnesota, but gosh darn it I've driven through the place and it was mighty pretty. If you'd like to support the anthology you needn't look farther than here. Also, here's a snippet of ours, which is five pages in total. Though I haven't seen it in its entirety just yet, there are some super talented people involved in it, including Michael Deforge, who is super smart and draws gross things.

Also, I posted the first page of the last comic here, so it's only fair the next one get the same treatment. Because of the colouring it's taking a little longer than the straight up blues of Heart of Ice, but I'm all for changing it up. It's about Tofino and Japan and surfing around in sweet wetsuits.

Also I posted this crow to Twitter, but he needs a more permanent home here. OR DOES HE. (he does)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 in Review

I don't find myself doing art memes that often, which in some ways is probably a bad thing, as a number of them seem like really useful exercises. One that I do manage to complete each year is the thumbnail review, which I'm a fan of it that it tends to point out bad habits or overused colours real quick like. This one includes solely free-time work and excludes nearly all 3D pieces, as they're almost entirely created for work, and as such, not mine to post.

Yuko did a rockin' one, oh my.

2011 was a lot of fun on the art front. We, the second part of that being Ms. Carroll and I, attended TCAF, checked out some comic shops and art museums in England, had the good fortune of hanging out with the super talented comic artists of Vancouver, and between the two of us finished a number of comics and played/debated about way too many videogames.

Coming up - Quetzalcoatl be damned - attending another round of the shockingly awesome Toronto Comic Arts Festival and the smaller, newer and likely rainier Vancouver Comics Arts Festival. Also probably more videogame fanart and trying to wrap up some earlier projects, of the both two and three D variety.

One last thing on the game art front, the Dominance War results are in for character designs, and they're stunning. The only real bummer comment I might make about them is that the style that seems to win is always fairly... well, there seems to be a set look for what the judges are after - very detailed, very aggressive - and not many seem to break that mold. I just wish there was a little more charm in some of the character designs, but that's overly fussy, and the pieces created are, in a word, goddamn gorgeous.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The List

Holy cats, this game.

Like a number of (lovely) people I know, I have an ongoing list of games that I'm really looking forward to in the coming year, year and a bit. Assassin's Creed, Bioshock Infinite, The Last Guardian, and Journey are all on there, and if I could pin down just one reason why, it would likely be due to the atmosphere and environmental storytelling each of these games has cultivated in the brief clips and screenshots I've seen.

Also, each has a strong singleplayer element included - something that games have been sort of veering away from for some time now. Understandably so in a lot of cases, but sort of a shame for hermits like m'self who shy away from voice chat and pick up groups and all the trappings that come along with multiplayer games.

Alright, time for waffles.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Saddest of Skunks

I ran across this skunk tonight on the way home, and felt super sorry for the little guy. He's doomed to look like a beautiful daisy until the end of days/the cup falls off. On the plus side, he didn't seem to be having trouble eating or doing... whatever it is that skunks do.

Monster eels from a D&D game that's being DM'd by Emily.

Also, Jon Klassen AKA the nicest of guys has a new book out, I Want My Hat Back. Jon's a gentleman and a scholar and everyone should own a copy of his book.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Heart of Ice (9-ish Pages)

Though I've been working on this off and on over the last six months or so, a point was reached where I had to post this guy, learn from any mistakes and move on to the next project. Thanks kindly to Blambot for the font.

I went down some bizarre internet rabbit holes while looking into the wendigo/windigo mythology, but wendigo psychosis, and in particular this report is an upsetting avenue to look into, while at the same time being completely fascinating.

Also, Kenora Ontario is mentioned in a few articles as being the wendigo capital of the world. All's fair in love and cryptozoology, Kenora.

Ossuary and Float are two other comics that have been bumping around sketchbooks for awhile now, so those will likely show up in a few months. Hopefully not in another six though, oh my goodness.

Also, if you're not familiar with Brandon Graham you're missing out! Here's an interview with him that was hanging around Twitter this afternoon, and it's amazing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Viking Study

This is pretty ancient by blog standards, but I've been sorting through files recently and I realized I'd never posted it. It was my second go at a character in ZBrush (fall 2010), because - just between you and me - the first looked like some kind of ghoulish nightmare spawn.

The fur looks a little gummy nowadays, but it was good for learning.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bath and Environs

Spent some time in England last week, and it was fantastic. The jet lag, however, was less so. The city of Bath has some incredible countryside surrounding it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


In keeping with the single palette theme of the week, this morning was 'orangeish' morning, and in particular, the orange from Journey. If you haven't yet been introduced to it, Journey's a stylish game coming out, oh... I want to say this year, from That Game Company. Flower, one of their previous games, was a really interesting/beautiful bit of gameplay, but I haven't had the time to check out their earlier work just yet.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Where Did You Come From, Brushes?

The compositions fell down the stairs a little, but I found two mystery brushes in the brush palette that turned out to be nine kinds of fun.

Speed paint purple mountains and Elena F. done up all in blue.

Also, less than a month until the Toronto Comic Arts Festival!