Some time ago, I did a course through CalArts on video game character design. The course homework assignments had us course participants peer review each other’s work, which went well until we had to take an existing, established video game character and put it, as it were, in another game universe. Here problems arose because to no surprise — people have strong emotional feelings about characters they have spent hours of their life playing as or with.
So when I decided to take everyone’s favorite Italian plumber, Mario, and give him the Dark Souls treatment by turning him hollow and handing him a battle axe (see below) — some had harsh words for my final rendition, basically all boiling down to, it’s too cartoony to be “inspired by Dark Souls.” To me though, that was no big deal — it so happened this is just my style.
What did bother me, however, was that there was something off about the construction of the character: there’s too much “camouflaging” of extremities, the eyebrows lack texture, the head sits ill on the romp, and the belt doesn’t compliment the roundness of the belly. But I couldn’t be bothered starting anew … until a few days ago.
You see, I’m currently in the process of redoing some oldies but “goldies,” just to compare them side-by-side — to see if and how much I’ve managed to improve. Below you can see the new version of my medieval fantasy Mario. Is it an improvement over the original? I’ll let you judge for yourself.
Some time ago some Norwegian rando kept calling me Steve for some reason. Don’t ask me why.
Later me and some friends came up with stage names for ourselves for our hypothetical band. Everyone went with cool names, nearly all ending with either ‘Axe’ or ‘Chainsaw.’ Me, on the other, I went with the most Metal of tools in the repair box — the pliers.
Today, I felt urge to design a logo with a 1980s chrome look to it. Just for my own gratification and to find out for myself the steps needed to achieve such a look. And here’s what I came up with:
There’s still room for improvement, but for a first attempt, it turned out alright, if I say so myself.
This will probably be my last logo this year. In the upcoming weeks, I will just focus on cartooning and character design.
I made this as a birthday present to a friend of mine. It also marks my first real attempt at digital painting.
I still have a lot to learn, when it comes to painting, but I’m not completely green anymore (heh).
Is there anything else to be said about this piece? Well, actually, initially I had this idea for something a bit different than what you see pictured here. I once pitched this logo design that featured a gaping voodoo-like skull. But the band wasn’t having it. They told me they thought it would look good printed on an album or a T-shirt. But I held on to the idea of someday designing such a logo. Later, some other band said “no” to one of my design choices for a T-shirt design, telling me to overlay the logo on top of the graphic instead of below it, that it wouldn’t look good, otherwise. Again, I begged to differ, but decided to keep my further thoughts to myself and just get the job done. Here enters my friend with a funny nickname, Repuka, and whose birthday was coming. It gave me the excuse I was looking for to revisit these rejected ideas, if only to prove there was merit to them after all.
Earlier today someone asked me, “Do you have a site or a blog I could check to see some of your work?” Which reminded me that I do actually. And with that realization came the one that I’ve been sitting on some news for quite a while now.
My last post was about the new Cardinal logo which I ended by noting that I was working on several more. And well some of them, they are about done and with others, progress is being made.
While on the subject of band art, I also want to mention — if I haven’t done so in a previous blog entry — that I completed designing my first fully-illustrated album cover. The band members were so pleased with the design that they also had it printed as an on-stage backdrop of about ten by six feet. And it’s already seen some live use at a gig last weekend. Even so, the band have requested me not to show it in full just yet because they want to do a big reveal for the label and their fans in an official kind of way sometime soon.
I can show you, however, something entirely else — a cartoon I recently finished drawing. There’s a bit a of a story behind it, the details of which I’ll recount at a later date, probably sometime later this week. So for now, just enjoy what you see here.
I haven’t done much drawing for the past few days since I was bent on finishing reading Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. It’s a great read with imaginative, inspiring characters in it — like, for instance, industrial remade chimeras, sapient talking birdmen, and human-like women with chitinous heads. But yesterday it came to me that, arguably, the greatest of all characters is New Crobuzon, the city in which the story takes place. I say ‘arguably’ but it seems pretty clear to me that Mieville spent more time fleshing out its background, history, politics, demography, etc., than detailing or explaining the characters — bar one exception, perhaps. So the city becomes more than just a backdrop, it becomes an active agent in the story… Anyway, why am I telling you all this? Well, here’s the thing, I was thinking of ‘cartoonifying’ some of the book’s characters. I thought of how to draw machinery, feathers, and city scapes. And then I went on thinking… and thinking… And during all that time, the (digital) canvas remained empty. Which brings me to the point of this post.
Today I decided to ‘kickstart’ myself, again. But instead of going through my usual routine — participating in a design contest, always against my better judgment — I decided to partake in a challenge set by Mallory Carlson at the Nickelodeon Artist Program. Let me tell you, it has been a fun experience. Not only did it get me drawing again, it’s also been really inspiring to see what fellow-artists came up with!
This week, I participated in a design contest for some marathon event. I was to draw a Viking helmet with a Viking running on top of it. So I came up with this idea… to make the helmet look like a naturescape, a runner’s paradise of sorts, with some running figures on the path. But sadly, the contest holder deemed it “too colorful,” so that was it…
I say sadly, but in truth it was a “bi-winning” experience nonethelesss. After all, the contest provided me both a deadline and an opportunity to practice drawing scenery — which I have been wanting for months but which I have kept postponing –, and in the end the drawing came out pretty decent. So, uh, the takeaway from all this is, that sometimes it’s good to have a deadline.
Full disclosure: As someone who majored in history, I know damn well that Viking helmets in actuality never had horns attached to them. But, let’s face it, they do look better with horns.