Last minute changes are bad. First, simply by definition, they give no time for further revision, and second, if those changes are drastic, you give the impression that you are unpredictable, especially when you're working from a thumbnail.
I have to give a shout out to Brent Evans once again. He's been great working with me, giving me the patience and freedom I need to produce some images I'm proud of that work for him. Long story short, I did what teachers tell you not to do in college (and for good reason). I abandoned the thumbnail. Let's look at our Aborigine surfer first, shall we?
This guy will be featured in the upcoming Shadowrun: Crossfire card game, but promotional shots have already spoiled him for me. It started with this thumbnail:
Brent was happy enough with it. He wanted the guy to be wearing Bermuda shorts and a watch, looking at the viewer, and having the surf board tilted so it didn't run parallel with the frame. So I made the changes, and started to color it. I got in close to it, painting away, and when I pulled out, this is what I saw:
Now, I'll admit, he's not done, but this was NOT what I had in mind. Suddenly the conntrappsosto gave this image a very different undertone. It was (this is a theme for me) 10 at night the night before it was due, and I was 50% done with a painting that was 100% wrong. So I started over.
If you've done this before as an artist, then you know: only make this move when you are confident that your changes will blow your AD out of the water. If they are getting something that they didn't expect, it better be way better than what they were waiting for.
Anyhow, I ran downstairs, shot reference, ran back up to my computer, and worked well past dawn :
I waylaid some of the guilt of changing every aspect of the thumbnail by accepting that the final was obviously superior and promised not to do something like that again. A promise I immediately broke.
This guy is supposed to be in a coffee shop nursing a 'possession hangover' while the floating computer screens laugh at him. Late into development, I was having trouble with the angle, because the perspective was all off. When I shot reference, the images of the place I went to were so much better than the thumbnail that I again made the tough decision: I had to scrap the image, because I knew I could do so much better that my AD would forgive me. Here's that final:
If you haven't worked freelance before, or you are still in school, remember: this is a big no-no. Unless the job parameters allow you the freedom, AND the image you produce will blow the original out of the water, this is an amateur way to produce, and something I always try to avoid. Obviously, sometimes that's impossible to do, but if the final image works, so be it. Here's one more piece for your viewing pleasure!
I've been working full time at Sidebolt Studios for just over five months, now. We're almost done working on our most recent app called Viking Command. This has been a very interesting project!
It began as something simple: Just a little unit management game where you draw paths for specific sprites to follow to specific destinations. We settled on vikings (the original concept, I kid you not, was a joke about an entire game where vikings would fart their conversations instead of speaking). So I started painting backgrounds. Will, my coworker, designed and animated the characters.
We didn't really know what the tone of the game would be, so I started from Will's sketch:
Then we decided to have all the units from the top-down perspective:
Then, one fateful meeting (that looked a lot like this),
We decided that, instead of each viking going to the barracks and disappearing, we should have each unit restock and head back out to war. Now we had to design an open port so the player could see each unit when it was finished restocking.
I was also trying to go with a more simple design, something clean and brightly colored. But after showing this piece off, my direction was clear: make it war torn, make it dimensional.
Now we were at week four of six expected to finish the project, and I had finished my first background of three. Two more weeks, two more backgrounds. That would have been fine, but that was not all… Each character on these maps had a very cartoony style: flat colors and hard-lined shapes. Everyone liked the new more realistic direction of the background, but now they wanted the characters to fit into it. The characters are cut into pieces so that they can animate. Some characters could have up to fifteen individual parts, and I was the one who was going to paint them.
The game, originally simple levels, ballooned into six levels, each with ten different challenges.
Thankfully, the higher ups decided to pull a few artists off of a different project to help me and Will. Here's a good example of the changes made to the style of the game throughout development. This is just the main menu! Keep in mind that most of these changes where made in the last weeks of development time:
Finally, just for good measure, another level I painted for the game. Can you imagine this fitting in with the visual style I was trying to develop initially?
We'll be releasing the game within the next week or so. Until then, here's a teaser trailer.
Oh, and I'm still working for Shadowrun. Two of my favorite pieces are set to get published soon, I can't wait to show you. Until then, enjoy this lucky Ork from the recently published Shadowrun: Run and Gun.
It's been a long time, I know. I've been very busy with a ton of great things, and this weekend was the first in a month that I've been free to do my own thing. So I took my new Cintiq on her first just for fun run, and had a real blast. Hope you like it!
I have been up for 36 hours, I've finished two of the highest profile freelance jobs I've ever done, and I just accepted a full time position as a graphic designer at Sidebolt Studios. Here's a sample of what I've been doing for them: