December 23, 2012

Video Game Art

Hey! Did everyone have a lovely apocalypse?

This weblog has been neglected for far too long. Well, I have an excuse. If you’ve been keeping up with me on Twitter, you’ll know that I went back to school. Well, not that same school I didn’t like from a million years ago. A different school here up north. I’m studying Video Game Art.

I wanted to update much earlier to share some of the projects I had completed, but this program is so insanely busy and there was so much work to do that I just didn’t feel up to blogging. Now that the first semester is finished I feel like I can finally step back into the world of Internet.

So, now I’m going to share a few of the projects from earlier in the year. Keep in mind this program basically lets in anyone, so not every student has experience with digital art or with any kind of drawing at all. Thus the early lessons covered fairly basic stuff, and the projects were set up just to make sure everyone could follow instructions. That said, everything I’m showing here is an A+. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

This was the first project. Not very impressive, I know. It was just an exercise to get people used to operating Photoshop. We had to draw something, add some text, and include a video game related image. So I made this pseudo-Game Boy thing. The image is from Final Fight, one of my all time favorite games. My tablet wasn’t cooperating very well with the computer at school so the lines turned out kind of weird. I just went with it and got it done.

The next project was to find some line art of a video game or comic book character and color it, so I was right in my element. The original drawing of Optimus Prime is by comic book artist Robert Atkins.

We had to create some kind of fantasy landscape in Photoshop using filters, layer styles, and blending modes while including a found image. I created this hellish river of lava. The monstrous skull at the top of the mountain is from a dog.

Here the assignment was to create a fantasy landscape using custom brushes of our own creation. I made this painting inspired by some concept art from the Transformers War for Cybertron video game. I actually had to do this one twice, as my computer decided to reset for no reason in the middle of a save, ruining the entire file. I was very angry! Thankfully, I upgraded to a new computer shortly thereafter.

After all of that, we moved into working in 3D using 3D Studio Max. I was pretty familiar with much of the Photoshop stuff that was being taught, but for 3D, this is pretty much all new to me. We had to model a weapon or object, and so this is what I made.

It’s the NES Zapper gun! This was pretty challenging but I learned a lot and the result is pretty accurate to the real thing.

It has been a very busy couple of months for me, but very productive too. Sometimes it might even be fun. This post is contains but a sample of all the stuff I had to do. I’ll do another post with some more school projects later.

In other news, I guess Christmas is still a thing.


August 22, 2012

The TFcon 2012 Wrap Up

As usual, TFcon was an amazingly fun time.

It’s been a few weeks since TFcon and I really wanted to post about it much earlier. I was waiting for some other pictures from someone else but I haven’t gotten them yet and I don’t feel like waiting anymore. I do have a few pictures though so I’ll just share a few highlights.

Here’s Neil Ross and Scott McNeil, along with TFcon staff member and this year’s script writer Phil, reading the comic prelude I drew for the script reading.  A totally cool moment to hear these two pros read something that I had a hand in creating. I had to live with a part of that story for 2 months and some of those lines in the comic are things that I added or tweaked and stressed over, so hearing the whole thing come to life was awesome. People were telling me that this year’s comic was the best one ever, and I think I have to agree.

Before the script reading, though, was an incredible moment were Voice Director Wally Burr judged the audience auditions. There are legends of what he subjected his actors to back in the days of the original Transformers and GI Joe series, and it’s safe to say that it was all true. There was something magic in the air as Wally tortured the participants, getting them to read their line over and over with variations based on his input. It eventually got to the point where he had to be told to stop because things were running to long, but even then he couldn’t help himself as he continued to pull performances out of his victims. It was an incredible moment of nervous energy, and perhaps a bit uncomfortable to watch, but it all worked out because the cast that was assembled as a result did an incredible job.

Here’s a video I found of the epic conclusion to the script read!

Later that evening, I got to talking with Wally about the script reading and when I told him that I drew the comic, he started talking to me about art and animation and all the famous artists he had met and we must have talked for an hour or more. He even told me about an actor that worked with him who he doesn’t like! I will refrain from mentioning who, but it was pretty funny. Wally is a very interesting character and he’s full of great stories. I will not soon forget our conversation together.

For the Faction Feud team trivia, the Ninja Consultants united again and sought revenge after our loss in the finals last year. This time, we had a coordinated uniform. Look at how awesome we are.

The theme we were going for is pretty clear.

Well, even with as good as we looked, we were in for a rough time! It was a debacle. The destined battle against our adversaries The Furmanisims, who defeated us in the finals last year by only one answer, was in the opening round this time. It was a destined meeting with much trash talking. However, the questions we got were so hard that both teams cycled through their entire rosters a few times without being able to answer. It had to be the worst round of Faction Feud in the history of the game. In the end, The Furmanisims sucked less than us, though they too would falter in the finals and we would combine our sorrows. The rest of the night was spent at the bar where I drank a lot of Kool-aid.

Other than that, I took in as many panels that I could and spent some time in the dealer room. Compared to last year I didn’t buy nearly as much, but I did get a couple of things that I really wanted and just left it at that without going too nuts. Here’s what I took home.

The Black Optimus Prime is what I was really after. It was an extravagant purchase, being a Japanese toy show exclusive, but I’m happy to have it. I also got Dark of the Moon Vortex (also a Japanese exclusive), Track Battle Roadbuster, Darksteel, and Generations Sky Shadow and Junkheap. On the Sunday, when the dealer room became the Collectable Toy Expo, I bought one more toy: the Marvel Universe Doctor Doom figure.

I hope to get some other pictures up from the weekend later, but if you dig around my TwitPic account you can find a few more.

TFcon 2013 has just been anounced for July 26th-28th. That’s a year away but it seems too long to wait. The biggest draw for TFcon isn’t just the toys or the events, its the community. TFcon isn’t just a toy convention, it’s more like a family reunion. It’s so much fun to hang out and see everybody, and even though we all have the common thread of being Transformers fans, that’s a small portion of what makes the weekend so great. I’m so looking forward to next year. Let the countdown begin!

The Canadian Transformers Convention, TFcon, is this weekend in Mississauga Ontario! Once again, I was brought on board to illustrate a comic to act as a prelude to the popular  live script reading event, which will feature convention guests Neil Ross, Scott McNeil, and Wally Burr.

Read all 8 full color pages right here.

It’s an epic, generation spanning story written by former Ninjamaster Phil Gervais, and it will reach its conclusion when members of the audience audition for the other characters and perform the rest of the story on Saturday’s Live Script Reading. Even I don’t know what’s going to happen next!

TFcon is always my favorite convention and I’m really looking forward to it this year because it’ll be the first time back in the Toronto area since I moved. It’s going to be awesome. I’m also really looking forward to the Faction Feud, where my team, the Ninja Consultants, will once again do battle for Transformers trivia supremacy. Last year, we lost by one answer in the final round, and we are out for revenge!

TFcon 2012 – Maximals and Wreckers by *ninjatron on deviantART

I am looking to have a special print for sale at the show, which will combine 2 images from the comic into one. It’ll be a great memento to get signed, provided I can make it happen. Come say hi to me if you want one or just want to chat. Hope to see everyone there!


July 5, 2012

Amazingly Spidey

I’ve been really busy over the past several weeks, working on the usual annual project I do around this time of year, but I managed to set time aside on Tuesday to go see “The Amazing Spider-man“.

First off, I’ve got to say that I really liked it and I’m somewhat surprised to read that a number of people do not. It seems that the main issue is that people are offended that there is a Spider-man reboot film so soon after Spider-man 3. Well, it’s pretty well known that they were always planning to make this movie. Spider-man 4 was in the works but fell through when the director pulled out of the project, so this new “reboot” got bumped up. The studio had to make another Spider-man film or the rights to the character would eventually revert back to Marvel (which would be awesome, but whatever).

So basically, due to the circumstances, this new Spider-man movie has to exist, but at least they took the opportunity to do something different with it, and so what they came up with here was a very interesting, fresh take on the story. Most of the familiar elements were there, just presented in a new way. It was fun to see what was done differently and what was kept. And let’s not forget that the Sam Raimi films deviated from the original story of Spider-man in several regards. This new movie is closer to those classic Stan Lee stories in some ways, and I think it’s better for it. I like the mechanical web shooters better than Toby’s wrist goo and I like that Gwen Stacey got the spotlight instead of Mary Jane.

The key point in this movie, what is to me the very essence of Spider-man, is the concept of suffering. Physical pain, guilt, anger, rejection, trouble at school, trouble with girls; How Peter Parker deals with these things, in and out of the mask, and then rises above it is what makes the story of Spider-man what it really is, and I think this movie did a great job with that.

Overall it’s a smaller, smarter, darker, grittier, more personal version of the Spider-man story and I appreciated it for those reasons. I also builds the world up very well and leaves lots of room for further stories. What I liked best about it though was how awkward and weird and gangly Spidey looked and acted in his costume. In my head, that’s what Spider-man is supposed to be like. Something about it just felt more real.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the Sam Raimi movies too. There are things those movies did well and others that perhaps could have been better if handled differently. The perception of those movies has been changing over the years, as we can judge them a little more clearly now that they aren’t so new, but it’s great that we have multiple versions of the same story to compare with each other and create a larger whole. I think it’s going to be interesting to see how all the different films stack up over time. At first blush though, I really liked “The Amazing Spider-man” for what it was and if you didn’t, well too bad for you and better luck next time.


My new personal art project has made its debut! Powered by Tumblr, Ninjapocalyse is a frequently updated art blog that will be full of crazy characters.

Originally, I wanted to just have some kind of daily sketch blog, but as I got to work on it, other concepts began to solidify and it became something even bigger. You see, over time, I’ve collected a lot of ideas for different characters. Some are weird, some are cool, some are just plain stupid, but they all beg to be drawn. So, I am drawing them, and my idea was to bring them all together by creating a world where anything can happen and everybody fights!

Fueled by my love for comics, anime, video games, and action figures, this is a world where ninjas, superheroes, robots, aliens, zombies, monsters, warriors, and all kinds of other characters can do battle. Rather than be a web comic or ongoing story, Ninjapocalypse will simply feature simple, fun illustrations of these characters, with a short written biography, and you the viewer get to imagine which characters are friends, which characters are enemies, and how their universe expands with each new arrival. It’s as if this is a cartoon or toyline that never existed. You can read “The Story of Ninjapocalypse” for more on what this is all about.

Ninjapocalypse will operate as a separate entity from, but there will be a connection and it’s my hope that they will co-exist and make each other better. It will update with a new character every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5pm EST for the foreseeable future.

In addition to the Ninjapocalypse website itself, there will also be updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. In fact, updates about anything I do will be on those sites, so you can follow there to keep up with everything I’m up to. And you can help Ninjapocalypse by spreading the word on your social network and sharing it with your friends

I’m really hoping that people dig this new concept, but even if everybody hates it, it’s still something I just had to try. There will be so many characters, and I think that once a whole bunch of them have been revealed, people will start to see what I’m trying to do and everyone will be able to pick a favorite.

In other news, I’m almost ready to move all my stuff to my new office studio. I hope to get some new entries here on SykoGrafix sometime soon after that’s all settled.