Are you a Javascript developer who needs some artwork?

I’ve recently started work on a HTML/CSS/Javascript image browser that I think could be very cool if I can get it to work. I have some ideas that I think make it potentially very flexible and useful for any artist who wants a stylish and easy to use way of displaying their images.

However, my Javascript skills are rather out of date, and my understanding of OOP is weak at best. So I could really use some help with the coding side of the project. If you are a web developer with good Javascript/DOM skills who would be willing to help me out, please get in touch. Unfortunately, I can’t offer any financial reward, but you would get ample credit for any and all work, a prominent link to your portfolio, and heaps of praise on this site. I’m also willing to discuss some form of skills exchange if you need any artwork; for example illustration, icons, or design for another project.

I know it’s small beer in terms of recompense, but at the moment it’s all I can offer. Please let me know if you think this is something you’d be interested in.

Quick Sketch: A Melancholy Rogue

My wife asked me to do a sketch of Rogue, one of her favourite characters from the X-Men universe. When I looked for some reference material for Rogue, I was struck by the fact that almost all the images of her show her as a dynamic, flying sex symbol (or the awful, shrieking, sulky teenager from the recent films). But to me, despite her great strength and powerful abilities, Rogue is one of most tragic of the X-Men characters; the gift that gives her such great power is also that curse that condemns her to solitude.

I like the mood of this sketch, even if the face isn’t right.

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My Jambo! Safari character artwork in the wild

Although I’m not able to publish any of the artwork I created for Jambo! Safari myself, there seems to be plenty of examples of my environment and character concepts, and character artwork scattered around the interwebs. Below are samples and links to a few of my images:

Amy Wildman character artwork on Gamblog.fr

Max Söderström character artwork on Gamblog.fr

Luckily I am not responsible for the awful box art or the terrible, lazy logo that Sega chose to use.

Concept Artwork

I’ve actually managed to add a couple of new images to my portfolio recently. I had the chance to colour up a sketch I did a few years ago for an NCsoft art test:

I’ve also just added a spaceship concept I did recently for an space combat game currently under development by an independent studio:

Click the images to see a (slightly) larger version.

Cannonbolt Sketch

I’m a big fan of Ben 10 (yes, I know I’m far too old to like cartoons – get over it). One of my favourite characters from the series is the Cannonbolt alien, so I made him the subject of my second “15 minute” sketch attempt. I still haven’t quite got the hang of the time limit though, as this one took me 25 minutes. Still, an improvement on yesterdays attempt:

Practice makes perfect

A few weeks ago, I was introduced to another illustrator via a mutual friend at my aikido club. Kevin Levell is an excellent artist, and I recommend having a browse through his portfolio.

One thing I’ve noticed that Kevin does is regularly publish 15 minute sketches on his blog. He does some very nice sketches of well known comic book characters, particularly those from the 2000AD universe.

This strikes me as a very good way of warming up one’s pencil, and there is no substitute for regular practice to sharpen up the skills, so I’m going to give it a go myself. Given my current commitments, I very much doubt that I’ll be able to produce a sketch a day, but it’s definitely something to aim for.

I started today with a sketch of a character that I created myself some years ago when I was trying to pursue a career in the comic book industry. Akiko is a psychotic martial arts and sword expert with a leather fetish and a nice arse. You can see some of my earlier renditions of her here and here.

I originally aimed to complete the sketch in about 20 minutes, but I chose a rather ambitious pose for her, and ended up taking about an hour to get to the stage you see below. The anatomy is still a bit wonky, but it’s a good starting point. Hopefully I will be able to post some new sketches fairly regularly. Feel free to wade in with some critique:

Akiko Sword Strike
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How long is a piece of string?

As a freelance artist, one of the hardest questions to answer when preparing a quote is “how long will it take?” Experience helps, of course. It’s much easier to be able to look back over similar projects and use them as a guide for timescales. But the problem is, there is no way to factor in a mental block.

Like it or not, sometimes the design process just grinds to a halt of it’s own accord. If you care about the quality of your work (and I do), there is often nothing you can do but keep grinding away until you get it right, all the time knowing that your hourly rate is plummeting as you burn through sketch after sketch after sketch of utter rubbish! Because lets face it, a client isn’t going to pay for your failure to produce the goods. They don’t care about artist’s block. They are paying you to do the job, not to agonise and tear your hair out because it just doesn’t look quite right.

A case in point: for the last few weeks, I’ve been working on a series of character designs for a new Wii title. I don’t think it’s giving away too much to say that the design involves a child with an imaginary animal companion. On Tuesday morning, I started a work on a new pairing; a young, sassy girl, and her squirrel companion. The girl was simple enough – I reused an abandoned design from an old, unreleased title; made her a bit younger, changed her costume, and a few hours later she was pretty much done.

But the squirrel. Oh, the squirrel. I wish I could post the sketches here to demonstrate the process I went through trying to get it to look good. By Thursday lunchtime, I still couldn’t get that damned squirrel quite right, so I made the decision to move on to something new, before I started clawing my own eyes out in frustration.

Feeling pretty dejected (I hate to be beaten), I began work on another proposed pairing, a young boy and his grumpy French-speaking penguin. This time it was a doddle! Two quick iterations for boy and penguin, and the design was done. A couple of hours later I had a nice, dynamic action pose for them finished as well (again, I wish I could post the results here).

Of course, working full time means I don’t have the same pressure on my hourly rate as when I was freelancing. But there is still a client to answer to (in this case my employer), and there are producers and managers who don’t understand or care about the creative process. They just look at the times allocated on their project schedules, and raise a critical eyebrow when it takes twice as long as estimated to get something done.

Jambo! Safari Ranger Adventure

Since starting work full time at Full Fat, I’ve worked almost exclusively on titles for the Nintendo DS, including Biker Mice From Mars, The Sims 2: Castaway, and most recently The Sims 2: Apartment Pets, released in August 2008.

However, the end of November saw the release of the first Wii game I’ve worked on: Jambo! Safari Ranger Adventure, published by Sega. It is based (loosely) on the Naomi based Jambo! Safari arcade game that became a cult classic after it’s release in 1999. The game has received some surprisingly favourable reviews, despite the Wii version being aimed squarely at younger players, and despite it suffering from a number of crucial flaws (more on that in another post).

I’m excited to see a game that I had a significant role in on the shelves, even if that game isn’t all that I had hoped it would be when the project started more than 12 months ago.

Time for some blog CPR

Which in this case stands for Concerted Publishing Regime. The combined pressure of a full time job, a (relatively) new baby, and the odd bit of freelance work means that I’ve been neglecting this blog for some time now.

Few things make a website seem more unloved and abandoned than a blog that hasn’t been updated for weeks, or in this case, months. So it’s time to rectify the situation; I’ve updated my favourite blogging software, reviewed my Markdown syntax cheat sheet, and have a few ideas for posts swirling round.

Time to get typing!

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