Morbid Holiday Side Project

Art Game Business

This blog has been a bit quiet lately so I figure I might as well post one of the side projects that I’ve been working on all this time.  Morbid Holiday is a creative outlet for my illustration-based comics and off-center sense of humor.

Holy Artifacts

The seeds of this project began from starting my daily drawing routine back a few months ago on October 4th. I kept it up each and every day and found that I was getting more and more inspired about illustration again.

Illustration is what I originally went to art school for even though I never finished that degree. It has been very rewarding to reawaken a latent passion of mine to tell stories and jokes visually.

Episode 0: The Childhood Menace

I’ve been focusing lately on the one-panel style of comic, usually with a line of text beneath the drawing. Similar to the Far Side in format.  I grew up on a steady diet of off-the-wall Far Side calendars from 1986 onward, though until recently had completely forgotten about Gary Larson’s masterpiece.

I have been creating a new offbeat cartoon each day and have been having so much fun.  It is my hope that this is something I can grow slowly over the next year or two as the fan base and content increases.

I’ve gone ahead and setup a facebook page for Morbid Holiday so fans can get daily updates as well as leave posts or comments on the wall.

I’m also starting to build out content in an online store to offer greeting cards, prints, t-shirts, and other products to the folks requesting them. It has been very touching to receive requests for various art and designs of mine and I look forward to creating even more humorous content that will let people get a glimpse into my twisted view of the world.

SUV USA

I haven’t stopped working on games. I actually have two games finished and currently moving through the sponsorship and licensing process over at Flash Game License. It is also the holiday season so things get hectic and jumbled for myself and the portals and contracts I work with.

Well, I hope you check out the Morbid Holiday comic website and add the RSS feed to your reader or follow the facebook page.

I’d greatly appreciate any help reaching a larger audience for sure, so if you like what you see please share with your friends and followers!

Daily Drawing Week 2

Art

Here is the collection of daily drawings I did this past week. As I mentioned in the previous post my goal this week was to try out a creativity exercise I had read about that sounded like an interesting challenge. The basic idea was to draw five random starting lines and then see how many original drawings I could create each day given those same lines. It ended up being a lot of fun for me. I’m always amazed how wrapping something inside constraints can provide a unique direction or focus. I found I was really looking forward to each day’s drawing and seeing what I’d come up with. By the end of the week I was quite familiar with the lines. I think my favorite from the series is “Hold On Tight”.

I also created an animation of the five drawings called “Five From Five” as an interesting way to present how all the drawings relate to each other:

You can click on the thumbnails to enlarge them.

Five Random Lines
Here are the starting lines
Yellow Dog
“Yellow Dog” – Oct 10th, 2011
Southwest
“Southwest” – Oct 11th, 2011
Horncordion
“Horncordion” – Oct 12th, 2011
Hold On Tight
“Hold On Tight” – Oct 13th, 2011
Just Keep Swimming
“Just Keep Swimming” – Oct 14th, 2011 
Fall
“Fall” – Oct 15th, 2011
Eggplant
“Eggplant” – Oct 16th, 2011 

For Saturday and Sunday I decided that five days of using the same lines was enough and just drew whatever I wanted. I’m trying to experiment a bit more with light and color as demonstrated in “Eggplant” above and I’m pretty happy with how it came out. I’ve spent so many years mainly drawing in black and white pen or pencil that I’m really excited to finally be pushing my color skills and learning.

Not sure what this week holds for the daily drawings. It was really nice to have some constraints or guidelines so I may have to think of something to provide a bit of structure. We’ll see!

Drawing with a Tablet

Art

Self portrait from mirror

Yesterday I took an hour and sat down with my drawing tablet and a small hand mirror which I propped up on my desk.

I have been feeling like I wanted to do more drawing lately from real life things since it has been too many years since I used to regularly do that. I’ve felt some of my illustration skills slipping a little and I am going to try to draw at least one hour a day.

For fun I took a time lapse of the drawing. I took shots every 30 seconds and turned them into the following video:

I’m continually amazed at the both the flexibility that my drawing tablet offers as well as the way it lets me get every pen effect I used to be able to get with an actual pen and paper.  I use a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet and it has really changed the way I approach drawing.  Instead of having to labor over storing and scanning my drawings in order to post them or use them in a game I can now work directly in a digital environment.  Plus I have become accustomed to the nice tweaks you can do when roughing out the initial drawing’s form.

If you watch the time lapse video you will see where a few times in the beginning I am able to resize the initial shape and size of my head.  It is a pretty common thing when drawing to get some of the proportions a bit wrong. In my case I often tend to make things elongate too much vertically.  I was able to squash the vertical dimension down and then later resize my facial features to more accurately represent what I was seeing in the mirror.

Once the proportions were right I was able to start defining the shape by laying down the shading.  Another nice benefit of digital drawing is I can use the pen set to a white color to come back in and hatch light areas. In a traditional drawing I would do this by erasing an area if I was using pencil or by carefully laying out pen over pencil guides so that I would leave the area white to begin with.  Being able to just come back over with white pen and flip to black pen again and again can really let me focus on getting all the form and feel right without worrying about the logistics of meticulous planning and allows me to flow along with the drawing in a way I enjoy a lot more.

I was trained classically as an illustrator way before things like tablets existed. I was initially quite worried when I bought my tablet if I would be able to adjust to looking at the screen while my pen hand drew on a different surface. What was striking was how quickly I did adjust until it became like second nature to draw while looking at the screen. I didn’t need to watch my hand anymore. I think a lot of that has to do with getting a tablet that is large enough and in the right proportion to your screen’s aspect ratio.  I have a fairly large landscape tablet and the pen is mapped from the relative position on the tablet to the same relative position on the screen.  I think this helps with the transition and learning curve a lot.  The pen has so much sensitivity and angle sensing that I can pretty much get every effect I could out of a traditional pen or pencil.

Anyone else out there have thoughts or experiences to share on drawing with a tablet?

The Results Are In

Art Game Business Games

AVOIDAL Concept Art IllustrationThe results for Ludum Dare 18 were posted last night and I’m excited to report that my latest Flash game AVOIDAL was in the top 20!

AVOIDAL placed 14th out of the 172 game entries submitted to the the competition.

Ludum Dare is a solo game making event where participants have 48 hours to create an entire game with all content from scratch after the theme is announced. This time the theme was “Enemies As Weapons.”

I wrote up a detailed post mortem about my experience creating AVOIDAL and created a timelapse video of the entire process.

This was my most successful Ludum Dare yet and I am happy to continue to meet my goals when I participate as I try to raise my personal bar for success with each event I enter. I wanted to get a top 10% finish again and I was able to get top 8% so my goal was met.

I’ve been able to predict pretty well how my games will place each time which I think is a good exercise in trying to be self-aware about your game and the potential audience for it. This can matter when you are trying to make a Flash game that you want to stand a chance of being enjoyed by millions of players rather than thousands.

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Concept Art and Game Design

Art Games

Concept Art Driven Game DesignI like to use concept art as an alternative way to think up game design ideas.  Here is a quick illustration I came up with today for a game I am creating.

I have done a few illustrations for this game working through various game mechanics, styles, and ideas.

This is a useful creative tool for me to rapidly try out different concepts and see what they might look like before I even write a single line of code or start creating any game assets.

Creating concept art becomes a way I can immerse myself in the world and atmosphere of the game ahead of time because as I am drawing these illustrations I am imagining the various aspects of the gameplay occurring.  This can even include me making hand gestures and sound effects without me realizing it as I try out the game in my mind’s eye.  As embarrassing as that might sound for some people it has been something I’ve done unashamedly since I first started drawing as a child.  It makes the experience that much more involved and creatively useful for me.

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