Archive for the ‘portfolio’ Category

Dredmor Skill Icons


I’ve just finished the latest round of revisions to the entire pile of spell icons. This is just one task which is part of the massive spell overhaul we’re doing for Dredmor’s beta 0.92 (when I’m not getting distracted drawing the disembodied heads of founding members of Gaslamp Games).

Man, there are a lot of these buggers, but they do get easier (and better) every time I redraw them. Telling you anything about them would ruin the fun*, so I’ve just thrown together a collection of some of my favorite spell and skill icons for your enjoyment:

dungeons of dredmor skill and spell icons

Still have to draw animated effects for most of these. Urrgh.

* whereas “the fun” refers to how much fun I have as people try to guess what the hell some of these skills do.

[Originally written for the Gaslamp Games blog]

“Binb is not Bomberman”


Here’s a trailer for “Binb”, a simple but compelling game by Maxim Karpenko (posted on IndieGames at the end of December) for which I drew some cute animated pixel-art sprites and terrain:

Very bomberman, but it of course isn’t, as it’s given a somewhat different game format and goal, plus special items. And look at those cute little guys!

I’ll be sure to post the link to the playable game when it’s released somewhere.

Starfarer: Pew Pew!


Or: Weapon design & graphics modularity in Starfarer

A game which revolves around combat in space naturally places great importance on the weapons uses in said space. In short: They must look really cool. Here’s a picture to show how I’ve been going about this:

Click to view full size. You see here the process of taking a weapon design from concept art to pixel-art sprite to in-game screenshot. The barrels of the Heavy Autocannon — a nice standard warship cannon — recoil individually upon firing.

And how about some background on what influenced this outlook on displaying weapons?

Read the rest of this entry on the Starfarer blog

Bard’s Apprentice


Bard’s Apprentice,  a cute little Flash combat rpg, was released earlier this month on Age of Games. It was developed by Cun Sun for whom I drew the overworld terrain tilesets, some UI backgrounds, and some items.

You can play Bard’s Apprentice for free online here.

Some screenshots here! :

Portfolio Website Revisionism


I’ve re-done my portfolio site a good bit, have a look if you like.

(Or click the picture below, it’s much easier to hit with your mouse-pointer.)

CSS vs. Tables

I’ve purged tables from my site and replaced them with CSS magic. You can all stop cringing.
And I daresay, CSS can really be a delight to use. I intend to completely redo the design of my site (yeah, yeah, when I get around to it), at which point I’ll try to be much craftier with CSS. What I’ve got here is largely an adaptation of old, messy code worked over not to make a new design, but only to make it less painful to look at both in-browser and in-editor.

Page Titles

Previously I had the title of each page typed out at the top of each page in a header tag, but my graphic designer Gee Eff pointed out that the link text in the link bar at the top could function as a page’s title if it were highlighted. This far more elegant solution eliminates unnecessarily repeated information.

The “About” page

The top bar of links currently has had four entries: “About, Contact, CV/Resume, Gallery”. I’ll face the hard truth and admit that no one really cares about me personally when they look at my portfolio — and it’s a weak entry point to the page (as it is the index of the “portfolio” folder). So I think the best answer would be the combine the “about me” section with the “contact” section and make it as simple as possible with a combined pitch, distinctive photo, and the all-important email link.

This felt like such a good idea that I interrupted writing this post to do up a new combined version of the about/contact page.

Most important of all on there, I threw some random art from personal projects around the periphery. If you’ve made it that far, you need a reason to stick around and click links in my portfolio; Hopefully the surrounding pictures make a compelling argument.

I’ve still got to find a picture of me that doesn’t look like a sparkly emo vampire.

Against a Background Painterly


These were for an ocean-themed kid’s game. I tend toward darker subject matter, but I found it was a provocative exercise for myself to make work aimed toward children.

Click the image to view the full background.

I painted these for a project that seems unlikely to ever see light. At that, I am a touch bitter about the effort I put into it because I never saw payment, but at the same time they never saw my signature on a contract, so I’m going to use these for my portfolio to get what mileage out of them that I can.


  1. Get a contract or down-payment before putting any serious effort into a project.
  2. I love painting backgrounds.

I’ve not had the problem of not getting paid for a job very often at all. Usually I’m working on a very personable basis with a client in the form of an individual hobbyist or small-time game designer/programmer who is enthusiastic about their project and has a small reputation to foster just like I do. No, I’m not going to badmouth anyone because everyone I’ve dealt with personally in nearly every project has been truly excellent and willing to work past any rough spots that come up — it’s just when multiple levels of contractors and investors are involved that a personal connection is never made and it’s easy to get screwed because someone never thought to think of one thing or another something and is too far from the guy on the wacom tablet to care enough to make it right.

It’s straightforward: With emotional distance, it’s easy to say “It’s not my problem”. We all do the same thing in different areas of life.

Actually, I do recall a certain reptilian web hosting company that I’m a bit mad about. I figured out too late that I was in fact sub-contracting, and their owner was jerking around the guy between me and him. Meanwhile I got offered a job in Texas at this company — but I never got paid for my work.
Maybe I just don’t understand how business works.

Let me restate my lessons:

  1. Get a contract or down-payment on a project before putting any effort into it when working with big companies, investors, or multiple levels of subcontracting.

Dredmor : Story Paintings


I’ve finally got myself around to polishing up the Dredmor narrative introduction paintings. I wrote the text, even. (A renaissance man stands before you!)  My intention is to keep the story working in rough archetypes without those boring details that no one cares about while implying at least a little of a world outside of the game along with a touch of self-reflective silliness. Yes, everyone has heard this setup a million times.

They work be hard at Gaslamp.

With the paintings, it feels like I’m almost going for something like Frank Frazetta, what with the dramatic colored lighting and dark shadows — but with a lot less leather bikinis and muscly barbarians, though it’s not too late to change that. (I’ll keep you posted on whether the previous sentence boosts readership.) I’m remembering now, actually, that sort of over-the-top fantasy painting came up when we spoke over a year ago of the direction to take the various Dredmor background and story images.

It makes sense: Frazetta’s work is so ridiculous that it’s awesome and “So ridiculous that it’s awesome” is exactly the ideal design philosophy of Dungeons of Dredmor. (Though my treacherous heart is filled with doubt about the prospects for success; It’s full of crazy, yes, but is that something people will accept or is it too indulgent, silly, abstract, personal? Time tells.)

Click to view at full size.

Portraits for Space Trader


I recently finished some graphics work for a Facebook game called Space Trader. Do check it out, if you like.

Part of the job involved painting some space opera style character portraits. I like saving the states of paintings as they progress so I can build a timeline showing development of the work, which is just what I’ve done for these four portraits.

Click the picture to see it at full size.


1. Grizzled space-commander

I figured he’d look good in one of those cold-war era looking command/control centers where everyone’s face gets illuminated from below by instrumentation. His uniform is a somewhat cold gray to feel more at home in a futuristic military organization while possibly on a spaceship . And I swear, my instructions just happened to make him look like Sarge from Quake 3, but then I think the cigar-smoking tough military man is a common enough archetype — the concept was crystal clear from start to finish. I also pulled the old cold vs warm lighting from different sides trick.

2. Gruff feet-on-the-ground sergeant type

I went with some peripheral suggestion that he has powered armor and some weaponry. There’s some destruction in the background to show that he’s just blown something up or he survived getting blown up. Either way, he’s a survivor. I’m not quite happy with the eyes and no doubt the lighting is a little erratic. (And I realize again that I need to practice a lot more drawing people’s faces, because lots of things are just a bit weird feeling. I find myself falling back on generic solutions to the problems of rendering faces when I use no reference.)

3. Helpful repair bot

Robots are easy — they don’t have to look like people, and I’m great at machinery. (All the junk in the background? I love that stuff.) The shape of the head evolved to look a little friendlier, less like a skull, and I figured that yellow is a friendly color that denotes construction and repair. The head still looks a bit flat, and the main lens not especially round, but it’ll do, I think.

4. Creepy bad guy

The first sketch was way too Destro, so he had to have a hood up if he was to remain metal-faced. (Metal-masked bad guys seem pretty common, don’t they: Destro, Dr. Doom, uhm … I’m out of ideas, never mind.) Or is it even a mask? I don’t particularly know. Still, it’s great practice to try to draw facets of reflective metal at weird angles with all kinds of indeterminate light sources — it forces me to wing it and try to make it look as believable as possible rather than anything like “realistic”. Ceci n’est pas une pipe anyway. The face evolved to being sharper and more lizard-like as I went on to look more, well, evil. Do note all the lines of the green pipes converging behind his head, bringing the eye to the center of the image. Yes, artistic trickery again!

Digital Painting: Character Portraits for Aragon Online


I’ve been digitally painting character portraits for the web fantasy rpg/wargame Aragon Online. I’ve turned into a huge perfectionist about these images and have been getting very excited about learning technique.

Unfortunately these are intended to end up as at 80×80 pixels, so I’m quite overdoing my job.

richard_big hildebadt_big pitlag_big

Some thoughts:

  • From my compositions, I can see that I’m clearly quite taken with the use of rich colors with strong black lines and shadows.
  • Rendering of colored light adds something quite expressive and lovely, I think.  (Can I be the Thomas Kinkade of overblown fantasy painting? For all I loathe his artistic practice, he does indeed employ admirable technique.)
  • I saw this page (by Daniel Olafson) on the dramatic effect of painting clouds with a sharp brush and was inspired to take up his approach; I’ve very pleased with the results.
  • I’m trying to experiment with the rendering of different materials. Flat metal/plastic is easy and largely textureless, but I’ve pushed myself a bit with the clouds, the leaves, fur and hair, cloth, and a little with some of the leather. Much more development is needed here. And I seem to really like drawing segmented armor.
  • No smiling is allowed. (Or, note to self: I want to try showing a greater range of expression than “grim determination”, appropriate as it may be for a pack of fantasy warriors.)

(Edit: I’ve also made a post on my gamedev journal showing the progression of painting these images with some discussion of what went into each step.)

I can’t wait to do more. And I admit, I wish I could get paid lots of money to do this all the time, but ideas for future creative projects shall be the subject of another post.