Game Career Guide

March 1st, 2011 | Design and Illustration, sketches | Vincent | No Comments

Last April I was approached through my work at the Odd Gentlemen to create this years’ cover for the Game Career Guide for the kind people at Game Developer Magazine.. It was an interesting project as I was given a lot of freedom with it. So I used the assignment as an opportunity to try apply new approaches and techniques beyond the ink and scratchy tone style of Winterbottom.

I had this idea of creating this cool sci-fi style landscape where people in crazy suits built video game landscapes one pixel at a time.  They would have these cool pixel filled backpacks that would filter to a gun where they would fire pixels into shapes.  Kind of like the the slime proton packs in Ghostbuster 2.  So I felt it’d be a great opportunity to display some of my digital painting skills I had been cultivating on other projects.

I did the below sketch of the cover, the client liked it  and all was right with the world.

Initial concept sketch.

Concept sketch for the characters’ suits.

But when I went worked this sketch further it looked terrible.   There was too much detail, not enough focus.  I tried a bunch of stuff and it all looked terrible.   The biggest concern was it looked busy and there wasn’t type on top of it yet. I naturally want to make most illustrations have a narrative focus. However I forgot that Magazine covers should be more of a hero shot with a singular focus with room for article titles and what not.   The busy “narrative” cover can be made to work…however on this project i couldn’t get there.

So I did something I never do on projects.  With a week left I threw away the abomination I was working on and started over. I stayed up all night recomposing the concept into more of a hero shot with a giant character manipulating pixels.  It is a  big gamble ( and a bad idea) to pull this kind of a switcheroo on a client and thankfully the people at Game Dave Mag were super supportive.
However I felt strongly that the illustration needed to go a different way.  Also when I went to redraw the composition the hero drawing came together really fast.  If you try and force out a drawing people can usually tell ( at least subconsciously). So if a drawing happens with ease I find it gets a more pleasing response. With that in mind I decided to go for it.

Below was the image I sent to them (along with a long apologetic explanation).

I used renders from he free program Google Sketch-UP for the pixels and little islands.  I assembled a bunch of them than exported them into Photoshop for digital painting passes.
Below is the final cover without magazine elements.

Usually I am an obnoxious ass when it comes to self promotion.  However, I have kept this illustration under my hat for a while.  I really liked the way it came out, and it’s one of my more finished digital pieces. But it doesn’t fit into my usual illustration work.  I think my biggest problem as an illustrator is that I like to jump around stylistically.    This works when doing web projects or even concept work, where different approaches are needed.   However my illustration work suffers a bit from shifting styles. If you held Winterbottom up to this you wouldn’t know this was me.   Even friends who have known my work for years had no idea I did this. Although I kind of like that reaction, it isn’t doing me any favors in brand identification.

So I guess I felt this was too much of a jump to cram down people’s throats via my website. However a friend of mine sent me this yesterday from GDC so I figured it was a good time to talk about it.

They are all staring into my soul wondering why I ignored them.

Looking back it reminds me of Minecraft creations. If I had done it later I might have pushed the pixels into shapes aspect more.
It was a great learning experience to say the least and I am happy Game Dev magazine gave me the opportunity.

About The Author


I am an artist living in Los Angeles, California and currently working on Illustration, Graphic Design and Visual Development projects for The Odd Gentlemen and Midnight Oil Creative.

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