Skillshare Class! Visual Density in Character Design

I have a brand new class on Skillshare! This is the last episode in my 5-part series on art style and character design.

This course examines the spectrum of visual detail we see in fantasy characters, from the realistically complex to the simplified and abstract. The concepts we learn will help you understand how to communicate a lot of important visual information with even just a few intelligent design choices for the characters you create. All you need is a drawing instrument and a willingness to experiment with the drawing exercises -- no experience required. For the class assignment, we'll see how an "adjective-noun-verb" formula can be used to create a memorable character!

If you enjoyed the previous 4 courses, I think you'll really have fun with this one, so please check it out.

Skillshare Class! Line Quality in Character Design

I have a brand new class on Skillshare! This is the fourth entry in an ongoing series about art style and character design.

This course in particular explores the different ways that lines are used when designing characters. We'll take a look at the lines of well-known characters from various media, and we'll even consider lines that exist in the real world to gain an understanding of why they work the way they do. You might use a line to scribble a smile onto a character -- or you might use it to give them a leaping motion in a still drawing. You can even use lines to give flat drawings the illusion of 3 dimensions! The class is designed for anyone of any skill level, so no prior experience is required to get into the lessons. All you really need is a simple drawing instrument to follow along with the key concepts. The class assignment will allow you to design a set of twin characters who look alike -- except for the fact that one of them has no outlines!

It's a free class until June 13th, so please check it out.

Fire With Fire on Steam Early Access!

That's right -- as of March 29th 2016, you can add Fire With Fire: Tower Attack and Defense to your Steam library and start playing! Get matched up against opponents for head to head online battles.

This game is in Early Access, which means that we're still squashing bugs and improving things as much as we can. The game costs nothing to download, so please give it a try and let us know what we can do to make it even better. Almost everything can be earned through in-game currency (with the exception of arena skins, which are cosmetic), so just keep playing and you'll be able to unlock more Towers, Creeps, and other features to aid you in your matches. We're planning to introduce more of these in the coming weeks to give players a greater variety to choose from.

Thank you to everyone who supported us over the years, through PAX East and Kickstarters and everything else that led up to this day. Fire With Fire has only just begun, and we have lots more ahead.

Junk ET: Kradle

A new enemy for our roguelike, Junk ET. Up until this point, all of the game's enemies (which are beautifully designed) were created by the other artist on the team, Sergei, but I had a chance to come up with a creature this week.

We use a program called Spine for enemies' 2D animation. Think of it as a sort of puppet-style animation tool, where different sprites are pieced together at joints (or "bones") and animated independently. I'm used to the old fashioned frame-by-frame way of animating, so this process is still a bit new to me, but it turns out you can do some really cool, inspiring stuff with this method.

Basically, you break the whole creature into separate pieces where joints should go. You can see in the illustration above that the main body is its own sprite, the legs are broken into 4 parts, and each tentacle is separated into thirds. I box them up and send them to the programmers to animate in Spine so that they can bring it to life in the game itself.

I tried a couple of experiments with this joint-based animation style to see what I could do. (I made these with Flash since I'm more comfortable with the tool at the moment, but Spine is basically the same concept, but more robust as far as I could tell).

The rest of the team's much more experienced with it, and fortunately, most of the game's Spine animations will be left in their capable hands. But these were fun experiments, and I want to try a few more if I get the chance.

If Junk ET sounds like a game you want to play, you can do just that right now. Check out the dropdown list (the 3 horizontal lines) at the top of our homepage and choose Register. Create an account and you can download the latest build onto your Mac or PC and give it a whirl!

If you like what you've played, give it a vote on Steam Greenlight. Every vote means we're one step closer to being able to release the full game on Steam, which is a pretty darn popular platform among gamers. Being on Steam would allow us to reach a wide range of players like yourself when the game is ready for release.

Junk ET Headquarters

If you've been following my Dribbble account you've probably already seen me post some artwork for a game called Junk ET that I've been contributing to since January 2015. It's a roguelike about a waste removal agent who cleans up junk on various planets. The dungeons are completely randomized, so no two playthroughs are ever exactly alike. I've neglected to post about it here until now, but I'll try to change that! If all goes as planned, the final version will be released this summer. I'm working with an awesome team of people and couldn't be happier to be a part of this game.

Last week I worked with one of our programmers on one of the game's main menus. You click on different parts to access other sub-menus, like character statistics or game settings.

Different areas have some slight animation as well -- some done through code, others handled by yours truly. We want the room to feel like a lively mission control type of place where employees monitor agents like the player's character.

Here's a close up of some animation I did for the employees at the front desk.

Skillshare Class! Proportion in Character Design

I've got a new class up on Skillshare! This is the third entry in an ongoing series on art style and character design.

Learn how proportion is used to build characters. We take a look at how and why body and facial features are emphasized and downplayed on existing fantasy characters in various media. By examining body types and facial proportions in real life, I'll guide you to understanding why certain space relationships resonate in certain ways when we see them on a character. There's a reason artists place huge eyes or small bodies on characters, and not just because it's funny. It's designed for anyone of any skill level, so no prior experience is required to get into the lessons. The tools I use for demonstrations and exercises are Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, but all you really need is a simple drawing instrument to follow along with the key concepts. The class assignment will allow you to take your favorite character and learn how to recreate them with weird, wacky proportions.

The class is free of charge until December 14th, so give it a try!

Inktober 2015

Took the Inktober challenge for the first time this year! It was a lot of fun. I tried to stick to a theme of 'ghosts' from various media. If you want to go through them one by one, go here. You can use the Previous and Next buttons at the bottom to navigate through all 31 entries.

Skillshare Class! Color in Character Design

I have a new class up on Skillshare! This is the second installment in an ongoing series on art style.

Learn how to use colors intelligently in your characters. The course begins by exploring a basic understanding of what color actually is, and progressively covers how it has been used purposefully in various fantasy characters across a variety of media. We will also take a look at our cultural relationships with colors, some that we learn from a very early age and use very well into adulthood. Like the previous course, it's designed for anyone at any skill level. Most of my coloring will be digital, and demonstrations will be performed predominantly in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, but we'll go over concepts that apply in almost any medium -- so follow along with your favorite tools. The class assignment will allow you to color in line art of a character in whatever way you want!

The class is free of charge until August 10th. Give it a try!