Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Return to Guache

Dusted off the guache tubes and made this little painting of a snake plant. Had a good time, remembered a lot of things, and learned a few more. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Underwater Stage

Level 3 (act 3 of the pirate theme) is an underwater level, so I got to make a whole new stage complete with sand ground rows, water masking flats, and a god ray backdrop. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Edge of the World!

In Level 2 (act 2 of the pirate theme), our friend the pirate ship sails to the waterfall at the edge of the world. Sure, why not.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Choice Menu

Between rounds, the player interacts with the carnival barker host, learns new concepts, and makes strategic choices which determine how hard it will be to make future round payments. These choices are where the real life financial concepts really intersect with our carnival metaphor. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Happiest Whales!

Level 1 (Act 1 of the pirate theme) features a big blue whale. At the end of the level, a ship carrying barrels of ink crashes against a rock, dying the water rainbow colors. Then our whale returns to show off his snazzy new look. Jon Gardner did the line drawings. I did the paint and final polish. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Fistful of Duckies Title Screen

A Fistful of Duckies is a mobile carnival shooter being developed for Android and iOS tablets. The wide screen format (above) is the widest aspect ratio on the Android, and the cropped version (right) is how it looks on the iPad. The button leads to the main menu. This is the widest shot the player ever sees of the carnival setting since the rest of the game takes place within the stage space. I used the thumbnails (below) to work out value composition and color before moving on to the final piece.  

The Barker character was designed and drawn by our animator, Parker Pierce.

Friday, October 19, 2012


A Fistful of Duckies is - even under all its ambition to be a learning game about debt repayment - a gallery shooter. Couldn't have a shooting gallery without targets! Many of these are specific to the pirate theme (Levels 1-3), and some will be reused throughout. We're aiming for a flat cut-out aesthetic, so the targets will  move in XY space as if controlled by mechanical means - sticks, pulleys, ropes, etc. 

Hanging hat monster and jackalope drawn by Parker Pierce. Pirate duck drawn by Jon Gardner. I drew the rest and painted them all. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Endangered Species

I'm exploring the idea of making a triptych of posters featuring three endangered species. Here are some of the drawings I did to familiarize myself with the animals. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pirate Set Pieces

Here is a collection of set pieces for the pirate-themed levels. 
Drawings by Jon Gardner. I did paint and final polish. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pirate Level Concept Art

Here's a stab at the target look & feel for the pirate levels. 
The "minimum-wage ducks" up front will always be available, but they are worth so few points that the game is not winnable unless the player also hits more difficult targets.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fistful of Duckies Style Guide

This is going to be a long post, but it has lots of pictures, so bear with me. 

Pre-production is coming to a close and parts of production are well underway now for my team's senior game, A Fistful of Duckies. Here are some of the pages from our style guide. 

We're targeting Android and iOS tablets to show off the art better than we could on a tiny phone screen.
Farm Blitz and Dragon Box were also two of the games that originally got me interested in the learning games and games for change space. Combining learning objectives with truly engaging game play is an ambitious challenge, and both games carried it off beautifully in their own way.
We want a combination of dark, creepy, and cute for our game. I absolutely love the color palette and chalk pastel texture of the Monsters Inc. concept art. Shaun Tan's monsters are adorable and weird, and Rayman Origins gave us a great solution for readability: smooth gradient cell shading on the characters, lush painted textures in the background.
Parker Pierce designed our carnival barker host. I wrote the character description and designed the color scheme.
My job as the Art Director is to make sure everything fits seamlessly into our world and supports the artistic vision for the game. These ground rules are a starting point to keep everything looking unified.

Our game has a limited palette to emulate the inherent restrictions of a single box of chalk pastels. By playing two divergent colors off each other instead of mixing a middle point, we'll be using optical mixing for extra vibrancy and texture.

Target objects will be lighter and stand off from the darker scenery and background pieces.

We've added Terrana Cliff as another Prop Designer & Concept Artist as of Jan. 2013, and Justin Jacox is now our sound designer.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Barker Color

Parker Pierce, our animator, has been working on the character design of the carnival barker host. My job was to design his colors so he'd fit nicely in our painted world. The barker will be animated in Flash with vector gradients, and everything else in the game is painted in Photoshop. 

The final color choices we taken from the same limited palette as the rest of the game. I included call-outs of which colors made up the gradients to make it easier for Parker, our animator, to replicate the look in Flash. 

Our character was looking pretty generic up until we decided to play homage to a beloved former professor by incorporating iconic features and personality traits into the design. Round two of color thumbnails reflects those updates. 

Here's the very first stab at color for the barker. In the final game, the character will be standing in front of the booth and the player will only be able to see from the waist up. We know he'll be against a fairly dark curtain, but we aren't married to green yet. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Study of a Rose

I was having a pretty crummy day, so I made something to improve it. I don't often have roses in the house, so I took advantage of the opportunity.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


I'm quite happy with how this self-portrait came out. I chose 3 colors - a magenta, a cyan, and a yellow - for my palette and did all the mixing with opacity and a couple of different blending modes on the brush. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Study of a Pansy

I was inspired by all the awesome drawings the students did today in the class I'm a Teaching Assistant for, so I came home and drew this pansy. It felt good to dust off the old colored pencil collection.

Monday, June 25, 2012


The 3rd person camera will be looking at her back most of the time in-game, so I did color comps from a rear view. I also figured that since the camera is above her, she'll most likely be set against a tan stone floor color.

The battleship-style label grid is so that my teammates and I can communicate quickly and clearly about the different options over our online forum while we get only limited face time during summer semester.  

Monday, June 18, 2012


Here is some early exploration for the thrones. Not only do they need to read as wind-god thrones, but I also want them to help tell the story of the two brothers. My current favorite is the one on the left because the heights show which brother is older and more dominant, the flags indicate wind, the broken leg hints at the little brother's downfall, and it is such a big brother thing to steal all the throw pillows. 

Temple Arena

Basic "How to Play" instructions and overview of current high-level game design:

The whole game takes place in the Temple of the Wind Gods high up in a tower in the middle of a desert. The main sanctuary is acting as our arena. Here are some early ideas about the space:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rough Concept Illustration

This is a moment from our game when Hadiyah, the blacksmith warrior woman, takes on a wave of lizard minion enemies. We now have a much clearer idea of the characters. My teammate, Parker Pierce, has been working on the lizard minion designs. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hadiyah Refinement

Getting closer to a final rough character design. I took my team's feedback and mix-and-matched our favorite pieces. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Contrast: Earth v. Wind

While working on the character development, I really wanted a more clear-cut way of visually distinguishing the good guys from the bad, so I made the following handy chart for myself and my team.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bladed or Blunt?

Can't design a warrior without her weapon. I've been exploring the options: battle ax? mace? war hammer? We've even toyed with the idea that she made herself a weapon out of an old anvil. The anvil-hammer is probably too humorous for the tone of this game, but it was fun to try out none the less. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Other Guys

Early exploration for our secondary characters:

Aidan is the son of the protagonist, Hadiyah. and the God of the West Wind. He's an overconfident teenager who aspires to be a hero but gets himself in trouble. In our story, he's been kidnapped and is being held captive by his uncle, Ilimatar, the God of the East Wind. 

Aidan wears many of the same colors and material types as his pragmatic mother, but has far less sense about the difference between functional protective armor and suggestive fashion. His clothes are worn and disheveled from the fight when we was captured. 

Iliamatar has kidnapped Aidan as bait to lure Hadiyah into his temple full of vicious lizard minions. He wants to kill them both as vengeance for the death of his brother, Demetrious.

His clothes are very showy and made of light flowing materials.

Hadiyah Character Exploration

We've been working on our story, character relationships, and visual exploration simultaneously

I've been doing the visual development, starting with silhouette, stance, and general body build. We knew we wanted her to read as strong and capable, so I'm leaning toward a stockier build and heavier weapons. She's almost certainly a melee fighter.

Warrior Woman Beat Boards - Color

More moments, now in color:

Top: Instead of starting in the arena, the heroine first has to fight her way up an open staircase to get to the main temple.

Middle: Inside the temple, the god is lounging on his throne. Our villain, the God of the East Wind, used to share this temple with his little brother, the God of the West Wind, until the brother fell in love with the heroine, gave up his immortality to father the (now captive) son, and died. The design of the thrones, through their heights, forms, and relative states of disrepair, will help tell that story visually.

Bottom: Villain watches heroine fight extra-large lizard minion from the safety of his throne.