Saturday, 2 February 2013

Sketch Compilation - Various Variousnesses

While many of the sketches that fall from the sketchbook are specific to the current project or thinking, many others are a zany mish-mash or cover fleeting ideas or point concepts of one sort or another. This little compilation illustrates things - the majority of these are from last year still and there are some cute little pieces in the set including some Mouse Guard inspired mice...

And just to finish off, as I construct these images using layer groups in Photoshop, when you turn on all the groups at once you get this (as each is set to Multiply) - I like the effect...

Friday, 1 February 2013

Paperman - CG meets drawings

The new animated short from Disney Animation Studios is a wonderful piece that is six minutes tells a meaningful tale with great care and lovely visuals. This is Paperman, a tale of a fleeting meeting in the big city and where that leads the couple by director John Kahrs.

Apart from some sterling writing and production values, one of the interesting things the piece tries to do is bring the hand drawing feel to their CG renderings by actually overlaying them onto keyframes with the computer doing the rest. This idea certainly gives the piece a different feel and doubtless there is more that can be done in this space to broaden the visual pallet of CG animations. These two behind the scenes videos give us a glimpse of the work and the R&D needed to bring this little film to us - wonderful stuff.

To finish up, here are a few images from Paperman showing the final look as well as some of those wonderful concept and pre-production sketches (see Paperman site for more). Disney has a great talent pool and it is nice to see that translating into side projects like this one!

[Paperman images via ]

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Crysis 3 Visual Splendour

One of the the great lures of the CryEngine and the Crysis games are the simply incredible visuals. The engine itself is filled to the brim with technical wizardry that combined with editing tools and some creative talent makes for such visual splendour --- and all in realtime!

Crytek have a series of promotional videos for Crysis 3 which not only feature the engine and the gameplay but are very well crafted as video pieces from the shots, editing and music to the titles. The visuals are just so good actually that the CG world falls into the background and it is the action, characters and plotlines that hold the day - we live in wonderful times. We are in a real blend now of film and game...

Here are the current five 7 Wonders videos including the intro by Director Albert Hughes:

and dont forget the tech demo

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Thousand Hands Inn

When looking at a concept to tie together a simple Role Playing campaign I created the Thousand Hands Inn. The idea was a campaign that could have a central place that short adventures could branch out from that would support longer and shorter trips as well as multiple GMs. The idea of the Inn was that it was something of a famous waypoint for travellers, stuck way out in the wilds on a crossroads surrounded by a very small settlement. The Inn itself is the expansion of a small fort which still forms a touch defence if needed. The fame comes from the hospitality and the bounties placed on evil doers which attracts heroes to the establishment. Here the party can form, get a bounty from the barkeep and set out to add another evil hand to the shelves and racks around the various bars. Yes, the owners continue the long tradition of the Inn handed down to them of displaying the severed hands of those who would do good folk harm. This is then a pretty direct approach to keeping the Inn and her tenants safe as well as sending a message that the Inn is protected. The heroes should fit into that environment pretty well and I think the Inn sounds interesting enough to flesh out with NPCs and rivals for the party. Larger events could centre around attacks on or betrayals of the Inn, even villainous forces that would see the Inn in their hands, even supply routes or staff intrigue could play a part.

I did wonder if it should be the Thousand Heads Inn at first, but decided that was a little more gruesome than the concept needed. I do change my mind on this though - both would be fun. On that note, here are some concept drawings from the sketchbook for the sign and some flavour dudes as well...

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Board Game Trailers - Why So So Rare

In a world where video is used to so successfully promote all manner of things to us ... why is it that board games suffer so badly in the trailer department. There are actually quite alot of video reviewers out there who take the time to show us games and gameplay and then give us their thoughts on board games of all types. Thanks to all of you and there are multiple YouTube channels for such things and the links on BGG are easy to find on each games page. Alas that is not the same thing as the makers of the games putting energy into the promotion of their wares.

The rise of Kickstarter has actually meant creators have had to formulate at least some semblance of a 'trailer' to put on their page and to be fair there are some publishers who at least dip their pinky toes into the board-game-trailer pond. Fantasy Flight Games are maybe the go-to folk as far as a major player goes.

Closer to home - I have a growing number of sketches for yet another game concept filling up my sketch book along with mechanics etc and I think it would be a fun exercise to complete the game and then to create the digital assets for a trailer that shows off the game before we get into gameplay tutorials etc. This should even sit very nicely in a grad project (looks away sheepishly then plays with the carpet with toe of shoe)

Anyhow, back to board-game-trailers - I think the environment is ripe for such things. Gamers are a little geeky and doubtless can be found on their computers and tablets alot. They hang out on gaming sites or might shop online for something. Even people who rarely if ever game may be taken in by a nice trailer - even a blatent advert may work. There were once ads for Trivial Pursuit, Atmosfear and co, but I will ignore those for kids games like Hungry Hungry Hippos or Jenga.

Since the landscape of board game trailers is a little thin, I thought I might just link in a few that set the (not very high or at least highly variable) benchmark for such things at the moment - maybe I can help lift the standard soon...