March 1, 2015

GDC 2015

I'll be helping out my team at GDC this year. So if you're in the game industry and are attending come check out GIGANTIC and say "hi!"

February 26, 2015

SOTW 418

Headmaster Ramish Ramshiri does not tolerate students
with those new fangled abacus gadgets. Haruspicy
of enchanted doves or nothing.
Since 2007 I've been posting a sketch/doodle/whatever every week on my site. I'll be continuing this trend here on my blog and on my site:

February 18, 2015

Movie Review: The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Emily and I recently watched the 2013 documentary about Studio Ghibli and its founders Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki, and Isao Takahata. It was wonderful. (We actually ended up watching it twice!) The director, Mami Sunada, seemed to take inspiration from the thoughtful, detail-oriented, and quietly paced films of Studio Ghibli when directing this documentary. It’s more of a “fly on the wall” style documentary as opposed to a “talking heads” style. Sunada followed Miyazaki (or “Miya-san”) and Ghibli's producer Toshio Suzuki for a year during the production of Miyazaki's final film The Wind Rises. It also “features” Isao Takahata while he was working on his latest film Princess Kaguya. I used quotes since Takahata is obviously not interested in that much interaction with the camera. I think he only appears on film for a few minutes towards the end.

One of the reasons I liked this doc is that it gives you a real insight into the Miyazaki's thought process and outlook on storytelling, animation, work, and life. I've always thought of him as a bit of a lovable grump from reading other interviews and watching behind the scenes features, and he is, sort of, but he also has an amazing work ethic and a zest for creating art that really comes through in his films. Some highlights of getting to see Miyazaki’s typical work day are when he and the office break for calisthenics, watching him storyboard with a stopwatch (for checking the timing), and taking the other animators up to the roof to watch the sunset. You also get to see what it must be like to work at Studio Ghibli. All the animators seem to be there because they highly respect Miyazaki, and even in moments of stress they seem to be enjoying themselves. It was also interesting to see how many women work as animators at the studio, something you don’t ordinarily see at animation studios.

There is one interesting directorial choice in the documentary that I found to be very effective. There are no clips of Miyazaki’s movies that run while people are talking. The only time you see any animation is when the camera is watching some of the animators work. The only exception to this is a scene towards the end of the film, which was very emotionally effective. I don't want to give it away but it summed up why animation is such a beautiful and powerful art form, and also made me reflect on the Miyazaki’s amazing career. 

So the TLDR version of this review: See this movie! See it if you’re a Ghibli fan, see it if you’re an artist or are interested in the creative process, and finally see it if you just like good movies!

FYI, we rented it via our PS3 on the PSN network, but I noticed that you can also get it from Google Play, Amazon streaming, iTunes, and Netflix.

February 14, 2015

Go read an interview with my wife Emily!

Check out the interview with my wife Emily Fiegenschuh! It’s on Kiri Ostergaard Leonard’s blog, part of her Women in Fantasy Illustration interview series.

January 24, 2015

Meet Mozo!

PAX South is going on right now, and one of the new heroes I created for our game Gigantic was revealed!

There's a bit of cat, rabbit, and monkey in her design
She’s a wannabe wizard that doesn’t really realize the amount of firepower she wields! Her official bio line from our site: “Mozo amassed a collection of magic wands — sometimes without the prior owners' consent.”

So basically she’s a wand thief! hehehe.

I had a ton of fun coming up with her design. I’ll be sure to go into that process on here in a separate post.

Here's links to the other talented artists that brought her to life (so she can then subsequently kill you:
Modeled by Ted Lockwood, animated by Jo Han, and effects by Shen Spurgeon.
Mozo, annoying the crap out everyone on the opposing team

January 13, 2015

SOTW 417

Bolagi the Seer of Destinies is not available to give you
any sagelike mentorship or folksy wisdom. He has his
own adventures to go on. Please take care and try not to
get eaten by a dragon or something.
Since 2007 I've been posting a sketch/doodle/whatever every week on my site. I'll be continuing this trend here on my blog and on my site:

January 8, 2015

Guardians of Middle Earth Concepts Part 2

Another classic LOTR character I got to re-imagine for GoME was the Balrog. I tried some other demon designs, keeping in line with the look from the film version, but it's hard to do a new version of a creature that's now part of a classic scene. I think my designs kept the flavor of the original just with larger proportions better suited for the game. I told myself that this isn't THE Balrog but another of it's kind.

Please form your fingers into the
"devil horns" hand gesture when
viewing these concepts.
Final design for the Balrog summon

One of the other responsibilities I had on GoME was helping with effects concepting. I really like doing effects concepts, it's more about impact and action than design and anatomy. Though coming up with visually dynamic shapes is still "designing", but its' different than something like armor or weapon concepting. The concepts can be looser since they're just there to give the effects artists and animators a jumping off point.

Bright and celestial effects for Gandalf and Galadriel.
Weird, unnerving Gollum effects.

Elemental Agandaur and Lugbol effects.

Spooky Barrow Wight effects.

Finally here's a collection of sketches that just didn't make the cut. Most of the characters in GoME are from the films or the LOTR books. I came up with some other fun characters but they didn't really get past the sketch stage!

I will never tire of sticking arrows into characters.
I hope you all aren't sick of Orcs, Dwarves and Elves just yet.... I have TONS of work for Shadows of Mordor to post in the future!