The Pigeon King

21 11 2008

Today I did a sketch to get some initial ideas out of my head. I’m actually quite happy with it.

Synopsis for this sketch.

He is a hobo who has lived in a squat among pigeons his whole life and developed some sort of affinity with them,
after some sort of disaster strikes ( yeah, I’m noty very far gone yet). He finds he must fight for a city that has done very little for him in the past. Something like that.

Anyway it’s good to have some marks on paper and be able to assess what works and what doesn’t expect further revisions of him over the coming week.



Warmup Sketching

20 11 2008

Given that there’s some sort of visualisation workshop tomorrow, and that I actually want to get some damn drawing done on this MA at some point. I’ve been doing some warm up sketches of hands, as they’re often the hardest thing for me to draw, so once I’ve got into the stride of that, I feel a bit more confident.

Personal Heroes.

20 11 2008

In recording the influences on my development, I think it’s important to drop the academics for a while and focus soley on the personal connection. This series of posts is an intention to have a look back over the years at the artists and illustrators that I have taken interest in, hopefully, to reach some conclusions about my own drawing and design choices;

Mike Krahulik

Mike K left, Jerry H right.

Mike K left, Jerry H right.

Mike draws the webcomic Penny Arcade (PA, from now on), which is written by Jerry Holkins. PA, to this day almost, is ten years old and I’ve been reading it nine of those ten years. My fascination with PA began a few years after I got on the internet and started playing PC games online. PA quickly established itself as the defacto source of tri-weekly, topical video-game humour. Anyone who was anyone in the world of online games was reading it, as so was I.

Mike’s style has changed a lot over the last ten years, but it’s never lost it’s original spirit, It’s only changed (in my opinion) for the positive.

For a comparison here’s the first ever PA strip in all it’s rawness;
The first penny-arcade strip

Compared to a more recent strip;

The Beta Whisperer

Because of penny-arcades infamous connection with the gaming industry, it wasn’t long before publishers/developers were asking for penny-arcade to produce work for their games, most of which is fantastic;

A page from PA's Prince of Persia, the two thrones comic work.

Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones

Having checked PA almost daily for years and years, I’d be lying if I said Mike’s work doesn’t subconciously penetrate it’s way into everything I draw, if only in some tiny way. To see what he has managed to achieve in ten years, how far he has come is an inspiration, what’s more, PA have recently produced their own game, and the character design is fantastic, and strikingly tongue in cheek, something I’ll likely dive into at a later date, in fear of this becoming a pure fanbased rant.

If you know where to look, Mike keeps a blog that is quite transparent about his process. He posts a lot of sketch work there that often ends up as finished colour works, so it’s interesting to look at for sneak peeks, but mainly to see how his work shapes up;


Pilot Project Possibilities: The Pigeon King.

16 11 2008

For my pilot project, I’ve been considering the idea of creating one character, from start to finish, fleshing out his backstory, making sure everything about him works the way I intend etc.  I’m thinking this way, because if my whole MA year is going to revolve around creating characters and concepts, then I need to be confident that It’s something I can do correctly. More importantly perhaps, this will be an early oppertunity to learn from mistakes and generate a decent methodology for character creation.

So then, who or what is “The Pigeon King” ?. Bare with me here.

On a year 2 trip to Barcelona during my BA hons, I encountered a square filled with a vertible plethora of pigeons. Nothing out of the ordinary really, until I noticed the amount of control you can gain over them with the use of seed, which someone was selling in the square.

This got me day dreaming about commanding armies of pigeons, casting hands of seed towards his enemies, swarming them in a crowd of hungry sky rats.

This has gestated for 2 years since then, and whilst I’m aware of the palpable stupidity of such a character, I also deeply enjoy the irony of a “hero” or “villian” who’s sole power is dominance over Pigeons.

I’ve done a few sketches down the days when this character has entered my head, not all of these are to hand, but here’s a few recent ones;



The idea of finally developing the character out of my mind and onto paper really excites me. And due to the odd subject matter of him/her it could prove a decent and challenging pilot project.

I’ll discuss this in the Group tutorial on monday – see what people think.

Retroactive Roundup: Eurogamer Expo/ Career Fair

16 11 2008

The Eurogamer Expo and the Career Fair were held in the same building on 2 floors over Tuesday 28th – Wednesday 29th of October 2008.

An early, early day, and despite my best efforts, one spent alone.  I have many friends with a massive interest in video games, unfortunately non of which seem to want to spend £50 to go to london at short notice. This however, may of been a blessing in disguise, as It enabled me to get more done.

Held at the old truman brewery on Brick Lane, London, these 2 events were a great fit for one another, a consumer video games exposition downstairs and a video games industry career fair upstairs. Unfortunately, as I could only afford to be there for one day, this meant balancing my urge to play the latest and greatest pre-release video games with my need to be upstairs communicating with industry professionals.

After a morning on the train however, I’d resolved to get things off on the right foot. I started the day with a booked in (almost, one on one) BAFTA Surgeries session with Richard Jolly, Art director at splash damage. This was a fantastic start to the day, as Richard extolled the virtues of working on a mod team to further your career prospects (splash damage started life as a mod team) and discussed the growth of art in the industry. He commented also on how he likes to see applicants with one big stength, one area they excell at, but they must have an understanding of the processes the other areas go through – and they MUST love games. (I’ve got the latter one covered already!)

I spent the next hour or 2 downstairs, playing some Gears of War 2, Mirrors Edge and Little big planet. (i’ll talk more about the specifics of these games in other posts), before venturing upstairs to the game career fair again.

During the day I managed to speak to Steve McFarlane from Rare, who offered very encouraging advice, he recommended copying the work of others in my free time to learn their techniques. He encouraged me to stick with the styles I excelled at, but don’t ever drop a style, as you need to be adaptable.  He also said it was important to frame my work in a personalised way, which adds a coherent link across all my work.

I spoke also to someone at Rebellion software, who was interested in my ability to animate, and said the industry needed many more animators. I spoke at the end of the day to a kind chap from Lionhead, who despite looking like he was ready to go home, spared me 5 minutes to give me some advice. Above all, he said just keep drawing every day, and keep at it.

The main thing I derived from the expo was that, contrary to what I had thought previously, there was a more positive reception to my typical thick line marker style drawings than there was to my attempts at a typical “concept art” style. People seemed to want to see more of this work, with more of it animated.  There was a focus on needing good animators in the industry. It’s something I’ll bear in mind this year.

Group Tutorial 10/11/08

16 11 2008

The first of my Group tutorials for the year with 4 peers and my supervisor; Simon Perkins.

The theme of the first tutorial was very much a meet and greet, with a heavy emphasis on informing each other and Simon of our project proposals, what we’ve done in the past and where we want to be.

The discussion of my project covered;

– The Practicality of working in the games industry, A balance of skills vs ideas.

– What practice outcomes could show the strengths of adaptable ideas generation yet highlight skills?

– Episodic Gaming, a method of game development with smaller development cycles, allowing for rapid change and adjustment. Is this something I should look at?

– “Mod” development. How working with a group of people to create a Modification for an existing game is important for the CV. Also it works with a known quantity to develop something new.

– Pilot project should be a proof of concept experiment.

Reacting to all this discussion, I feel that whilst pragmatism is important (i.e. the ability to adapt, etc) I may have covered a lot of this over a 3 year BA hons in GD.

It’s important for me personally to expand my skills base. I could have all the ideas in the world, but without the library of technical skills with which to realise them, and exhibit them to others I don’t really see what the point is.

It’s a tough balance.

Project Proposal.

15 11 2008

To enlighten readers of my blog, I’m providing a copy of my project proposal here so that people know what all this is leading to! – Walsh

Click below for a PDF copy.