A public dumping ground for words and pictures. Contact me at ThomasTamblyn@Gmail.com

Wednesday 31 December 2008

Not rich enough to be eccentric

Mad surgeons, eh? I'm pretty sure that cleavers are a surgical tool. Those are definitely doctor's spectacles at any rate.

So, I'm still mildly appalled at the colouring (oh god, the shoes! The shoes!). I think I'll just have to carry on screwing it up until I learn better, then go back and redo all the old abominations. The blood worked out better than I'd imagined. I mean, it's still not great, but it doesn't look quite as awful as it could have done.

I'm pretty sure these guys are evil; as I mentioned before I'm planning on a couple of hideously deformed experimental subjects. But the more I look at them, the more I think they're not irredeemable. Maybe I'll come up with some visual cue to make them more obviously evil - nastier surgical tools perhaps? The scissors and scalpel look a little vanilla next to the mad cleaver. Maybe just "evil-up" the colour scheme with purple and green.

Of course I could take it the other way instead and make them heroes (dodgy term). Maybe there's a way to double-dip. Redeeming a mad surgeon might be an ok idea. There'll likely be a pretty wide range of villains that could almost work as heroes, but if everyone can be recruited then the whole thing will look watered down and a bit "gotta catch 'em all".

So here's an idea: limited redemption. You can turn a mad surgeon into an eccentric surgeon. There might well be a dozen or two redeemable villains around, but there's a hard limit on how many you can recruit. Maybe two or three? It'll mean that everyone has different choices, which is nice. It runs the risk of there being certain optimal choices that everyone takes, and might end up being a lot of effort, but it might be worthwhile to give it a go.

Or, rather than limited options to recruit, make the redemption a super-rare event? Could even reduce the chances of it turning up based on how many you've already redeemed to even out RNG. Rarity can patch over a lot of problems and would certainly help with variety and potential player abuse - but at the cost of farming. A good mechanic might be able to overcome that though.

Too many options and it's too early to start deciding between them. This isn't the kind of feature that needs to go in at the start. Anyway. Badly coloured mad surgeons - woo!

Saturday 27 December 2008

Show them the way to go home. Tired, bed, etc.

No colours today, I've been mostly embarrassing myself as far as colour goes lately. Some new linearts though.

Whaler/harpooner guys! The stance didn't come across quite the way I sketched it, but its close enough that I'm willing to say "sod it".

I didn't make a deliberate effort to have interchangeable parts here, but I can't see any reason why head and leg swaps wouldn't work.

I'm thinking these are hero-types like the swashbuckler/duellist lady, though they're a smidgen light on details for that. Then again, after I tarted them up so as to have three varieties.... they might be ok after all.

This other fella's a little weird. I'm still testing how to do gribbly monsters in a style identifiably similar to the stick-men. The problem is that heavy abstraction like one-dimensional limbs only really work when the brain knows what it's looking for.

It also didn't help that I had no real design for this critter - just a vague plan of squooshing an eel and a crab otgether. He may well end up being junked, but it's a learning experience at least. (Psst - don't look to closely at the silly crab arms.)

Obviously he goes with the drowned zombies and crab mutants. I was going to call him a brine-spawn, but he doesn't really look mutated enough to be a spawn - more like just a weird species of eel-crab. Moray crab? Congar crab? I don't know. Won't matter unless I end up keeping him I guess.

I'm surprising myself with my discipline, sticking mostly to the sea and sea-mutant theme. I'd have expected to have gotten distracted by now. Well, I tried to be distracted when I made three insane surgeons, but trying to colour those sent me back to the briny.

I suspect I'll go back to them though; I want to do some frankensteined-up "surgical success" hulks and some shambling "surgical failure" zombies. Mainly because I like the idea of having a strain of monster named "surgical success" contrasting with a strain called "surgical failure". Why use reams of explanatory text when you can use naming and context!

Tuesday 23 December 2008


Sea zombies. Drowned dead? Brine zombies? Need a catchy name. They're supposed to fit alongside the brine mutants of course. I'm trying for a "Davy Jones, the necromancer from Innsmouth" vibe with all these briny fellows.

Not really happy with the colouring. I think that two or three shades per area is necessary to stop them looking flat, but two-tone shading is not my forte. What is this "uniform light source" you talk of? The boots are especially embarassing. Maybe I'll get the hang of it later on, or just come up with something better. I am fairly content with the fleshy areas. Just darkening the edges seems to work there, especially with the raw pink areas.

Modelwise, I didn't bother with swappable parts here. Instead they all have schticks. I suppose that I could mix them up with some barnacles, a little seaweed and decay on all of them, but I've a feeling that the effect wouldn't be as strong. I might come back and make another variation or two. Chains could be nice except that I've not come up with a good way to do them in this style. Maybe one with an anchor stuck through him?

By the way, stick-figure zombies are hard. I only really have the chest and head to display injuries on. The empty eye sockets were a good idea, but something that really requires colour to pull off. Tattered clothing is a nice short-hand, but all those ragged edges takes a lot of nodes. Ditto the seaweed and the barnacles. I did so many passes on these guys, trimming away excess nodes and trying to make the more simplified shapes look right. But there's only so far you can take barnacles before they stop looking like barnacles.

In a way it's easier to do sea zombies than the regular kind - I can cover sea zombies in "drowned" props that imply deadness without having to do tricksy injuries. My tentative experiments with vanilla zombies are, so far, unsatisfying. I'm thinking of giving them mouths as a visual cue. In an emergency I could always carry over the empty eyesockets look - though I intended that to be specific to the sea zombies. Ah well - that's a problem for the future.

Hmm, how many types of zombies can I do, anyway? Drowned is one. Traditional risen dead is another. Surgically reanimated, frankenstein style. Animated by some kind of parasite/fungus/disease (bloated, bits sticking out) is another. It'd be nice if I could manage to skip traditional zombies completely, but I have a gravedigger peep that I'm pretty happy with. Hmm. Anyway, I'd probably use a different base model for each variety, which should help avoid too much sameness.

Monday 22 December 2008

Brine mutant fiddlers

As promised; the finished version(s) of the crab mutant guy from before. Coloured to boot.

I'm pretty happy with these. The blotchy style of not-really-shading gives a nice texture to them, though I'm not sure it'll be transferable to non-crab type peeps.

I'm also liking the hue changes on the shells, especially Mr Alpha on the top left there. I'm thinking that could be a useful technique to give a varied and organic appearance to large organic areas. For example, if I did some zombies I could use a dull grey colour for the flesh, but then work towards a bruised red or purple at the edges. Or olive reptiles that have pale underbellies or brown mottling.

And so on.

I was a little worried that Crab guy Alpha might outclass Beta and Gamma in terms of detailing -I didn't want to give them all the exact same crab features (past the basic carapace and claw theme), but neither did I want any one variant to stand out as the niftiest. I think that Beta and Gamma's more intricate carapaces have helped them hold their own.

Something else I'm thinking about is that those are three pretty different colour schemes. Ideally I want the variants to be interchangeable, and to look good in a mixed group. These... don't.


1) Colour each variant in all 3 colour schemes, so I can say " a bunch of random purple crab mutants" or whatever. This seems a little... simplistic.

2) Associate each colour scheme with a carapace style, and then swap claws and heads to make a couple of variants for each colour scheme. Problem - the colour scheme and carapace are both the most striking aspects. Will people even notice variety in claw and head when the major elements are so similar?

3) A little from column A, a little from column B. Colour each carapace variant in all three colour schemes but mix and match the heads and claws. This will involve the most work and won't be obvious if I'm not going to be using different colours together. But it would offend me the least. There are nine potential combinations of head, claw and carapace. Divide them up so each colour scheme has one of each carapace style, that seems like the best compromise between variety and practicality.

I won't actually bother doing so yet though. I can do the actual busywork if I ever actually get round to using these guys. Besides, if I do get round to needing to do it, by then I'll probably be disatisfied with my current standard of work and re-do them all anyway.

I ought to mention what these crab guys are supposed to be. I'm thinking that "brine mutants" is a good name for the kind of thing that they are supposed to be. The hulking crab-man caught my fancy and ended up getting his own skeleton and so they look a bit uniform for mutants, but I have other plans as well. Hopefully they'll end up working as an unusually consistent strain mixed in amongst their more random brethren.

Sunday 21 December 2008

Red swashes

These fine swashbucklery-looking ladies are actually a couple of experiments all rolled up into one.

First of all they were another early colour experiment with block fills. And, as I'm sure you noticed right away, they're all "reskins" of the same skeleton. This was another experiment.

The leftmost one is the original. I began to get an inkling of a potential purpose for these vector characters while I was making her, and this potential purpose would benefit from more mileage from each individual character. Simple colour changes are boring; I wanted to try out model variants too. And so Ms Beta and Ms Gamma were created to stand alongside Ms Alpha.

For more potential variety, the torsos, legs and heads can all be shuffled about. I suppose the swords can too, but they're not obviously different to a casual glance (grey stick with gold handle) and are probably better off bundled in with the head or the torso option. Anyway - that's potentially nine different lineart combinations. Plus colour options. Which is alright.

Speaking of colour options, I'm sure you also noticed that they all used the same palette. You're a sharp one. That was experiment number three - trying to see if I could carry the same scheme across multiple models. Didn't work out so well. I mean, this particular picture looks ok, but fiddling about with it didn't yield much success with other schemes. Which means if I'll probably want to compose individual colour schemes for variants rather than using some kind of systematic method with equivalent-colour areas like I did here.

I might even have to make the heads fixed parts of the variant rather than dynamically swappable. Its the hands that are the problem - if I change the colour of the face, the hands need to change colour too. Which wouldn't be big a problem - I could just bundle the hands (and the sword for that matter) as part of the head "layer" and slap it on top of the body. Except that Ms Beta is wearing gloves. This is the point where I recognise that dynamic part-swapping is something to be considered after I know what limitations I have to work with. I shelve my grand designs for now.

Also I was testing the look of flat block fills. My thinking is that they look best where there are lots of small areas (Ms Beta) and less so otherwise (Ms Gamma). So I'll probably want to use some kind of shading or other texture to the colour, but nothing so complicated that it doesn't work on small areas too.

Oh - I feel the need to apologise for the high heels. They're pretty silly for any kind of swashbucklery/musketeer type character, but they really sell the pose to me. I think I can be forgiven this little bit of genre silliness, but still, it bothers me. I promise that that's the worst example of sex-specific silliness I've indulged in and I hope that it's not too greivous a sin.

Crabhammer colour test

A quick experiment with block fills and a little paintbrushing. I'm not sure what I want to be doing with these little vector guys in terms of colour.

Just block fills would be pretty easy, but also boring and would limit my ability to use large blank areas. Gradiants would be easy to do, easier to do badly and would look awful on "curved" surfaces like the shell here.

At the moment I'm leaning towards defined areas of colour, possibly with some kind of "texture" of application. This style/texture could be universal for unity of style, or vary to add an extra level of detail.

Undecided. Experiments must be performed!

Oh, and I realise that this particular test subject's lineart is pretty crappy. That's cool. He's pretty much an alpha at the moment - I just happened to be working on him when I decded to have another bash at adding colour. In fact I've drafted the "real" finished version, which I'll probably try to colour later.