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

Sunday 26 April 2009

Strange rituals.

Tarted up the acolytes like I said I would. Not entirely happy with them still I don't think, but they're closer to par than they were.

I've been flat-fill colouring just to make things look slightly more presentable, and I'm growing to like it. It looks a lot neater than my pathetic attempts at manual shading, and needless to say it's quicker and easier. I could still do some details manually - glow on those flames for example. I'm certainly happy with it as a standby at least.

The revised acolytes look a little less priesty and a little more townsfolky. I do not dislike this. I'd still like a set of suspicious townsfolk, but my last try ended up as a pig farmer. On the plus side - pig farmer!

Saturday 25 April 2009

Brine mutant update

Lost interest in "sea hound" concept. Townsfolk still planning. Pared down brine mutants.

Crusty sea bastards

Brine mutants! Miscellaneously hideous deformed salt-water mutants. Been trying to do these for ages, even got a complete set of three done previously but I junked them for being shit. The hunchbacked cloth-wrapped look was the breakthrough.

Still. Mixed feelings. I like a lot about these guys, but my node discipline is totally out the window on them. Way, way too much detail. I should really try to tune them down a bit, but it's hard to suss where to make the cuts. I could de-weather the clothes, take out all the nicks and tears. That wouldn't actually educe the node count so much, but they'd look a bit more appropriate. I'm hoping that with all their gribbly fishy bits and pose they don't need the robes to be ragged to give the right impression.

Feet. The feet are bullshit. No variation even. But, the problem is that sea creatures don't have feet, so what do sea-mutant feet look like? I could maybe do one with multiple crab-leg-type feet, but then what for the third? Tentacles look really messy and both they and the crab feet would be excessive detail on top of so many existing fiddly bits. But patchwork-looking mutants are all about fiddly bits! There's just no way to do barnacle patches economically. Those fish finny things I like so much are a lot of smooth lines and blank space, so they're probably cool. Ditto the tentacles on gamma. Maybe the shell-growths on gamma could be streamlined? Fewer layers, maybe remove the ridge lines and hope that the outline implies enough? Tricksy. I'm not confident.

Still. I'm happy to have finally gotten a workable base for the concept. With these guys I've almost got a complete "brine mutants" bestiary. Sea zombies, crab guys, cultists, the priest, tentacles, these guys and the fish-monster. Well, looking back over them the acolytes are really boring, so I'd want to tart those up. And maybe make the crab guys' pose less symmetrical, but that's less bothersome to me.

Hmm. I've been pushing on a lot so far, being resistant to multiple iterations. Maybe this is a good time to change modes and polish up a few for a themed set. Do I have enough? I will brainstorm other things I could add to the set:
  • More zombies. Possibly of a different type. Bloated? Ghoul-type with weapons?
  • Dedicated sea-necromancer? Fish-bone staff? Gravedigger?
  • Townsfolk with minor mutations. Improvised weaponry; boathooks, cleavers, harpoons.
  • Some kind of "hound" sea beast that is sicced on people? Need a good hook. Ooh - I might have an old sketch I can repurpose...
  • Abominations? Mutants gone too far, extra-gribbly. Could be easy, might be too cheap. Don't want to over-weight the mutant mosters angle compared to the cult angle.
  • Little creepy familiar/imp-type fish critters.
  • Townsfolk with creepy little fish critters. maybe mothers cradling them like children? Too creepy? Too hard to standardise? Possibly so.
Hmm - more possibilities than I expected. I think I'll look into the townsfolk gone bad and the sea-hound first, with advanced zombies fermenting in the back of my head (ew).

Lots of words. Must make more pictures.

Monday 20 April 2009

Big burly bastards

Monsters are tricky. I can't really do much stickman stuff with them, because the eye isn't so good at knowing what it's looking at. Large and burly is also incompatible with stickman. So, large and burly monsters are doubly bothersome. On the plus side, if stickmen are the standard, then limbs with actual shape and volume look especially large and burly.

So, two large burly monsters. A giant insect guy, and an elder brine mutant. See, I told you I was planning more brine mutants. it just took a few months before I came up with a fish-guy sketch that wasn't awful.

Insect guy's anatomy is more man-in-suit than beetle, although he does have that carapace. I do tend to repeat the same styles and designs with anything that has large armour segments. Still, I'm not unhappy with him. Is he the start of a batch of big mutant arthropods? Possibly.

His head was tricky. On the sketch that area was just a big scribble. Once I settled on a beetlish tiny head, I had the problem of how to make it stand out against the chest. Colour to the rescue. The secondary arms gave me pause too - they're small enough that I didn't want to devote too many lines to them, but I wanted them to look like more than armour ornamentation. Colour helps here too. I imagine the ltitle arms are used for feeding himself, grooming and other delicate work - the big strong arms probably aren't so dexterous.

Fish guy's feet are a bit dodgy. I cut myself some slack since they're meant to be froggy/fishy - webbed and floppy. The hand on the ground just about works, but I'm trying not to look too hard at it.

Variants on these two guys' skeletons seem unlikely. First of all, being large burly monsters there's not really much of an underlying skeleton. No clothes or accessories means not much to vary. I'd have to end up redrawing quite a bit of them, in which case I may as well just do a whole new one.

Perhaps for cases like these and the dinosaurs, I should use colour variations only. It could work but I'm not terribly enthusiastic. I was thinking they could be unique "boss" monsters, but I can't do that for every monster that's tricky to tweak. But palette swaps are so cheap...

Friday 17 April 2009


Brawler-type fellows with those claw-gauntlet weapons that are so impractical in real life. As if I care. Eclectic and implausible is how I roll.

And eclectic is certainly what these guys are. No unifying style between them. Barely any individual style either, which means that head, weapons, body and legs are all freely swappable. With such different styles, they'll make good individuals. Though for some reason I feel that they belong in a city of some kind. Alongside the thief characters from earlier perhaps. Maybe they'd make good "boss" thugs. I suppose that varied fashion does work for a generically cosmopolitan urban area.

I've had the parent sketch and basic skeleton for these lying around since last year; I'd abandoned it because I wasn't making any progress. I'm glad to have brought it to a finished linework. #1's claws were awkward. Still are actually, but they'll do.

The legs are the really dodgy part - all three of them have weird-shaped boots/cuffs/kneepads. I think I've managed to hammer them into something approaching an acceptable shape, but they're definitely the weakest area.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Inconvenient doorbell

Today I seem to be getting stuff done. Not much important but... well. You take what you can get. It's nice to get back into the groove of doing these guys after a lime-filled drought.

Swordguys in robes. Initially based around your typical elegant samurai in dressing gown, but mutating as I worked on them. I'm going for a hodgepodge aesthetic overall, so that's a good thing.

I was pleasantly surprised how different the three variations ended up. The original seemed so specific that I assumed the differences would be trivial. On the other hand, once I'd finished I started worrying about remixability. It looked like there was only swords and heads to swap about. But a quick bit of experimentation revealed that the torsos and lower body could be convincingly swapped about too. Which was nice.

The part I'm least happy with is the weapons. The pose and style really demands an elegant two-handed sword. You can tell that #3's was a bit of a stretch. I think I meant it so be some kind of reverse-bladed scythy thing?

i didn't actually set out to do these guys just now, but I've had their base sketch lying around on my WiP document for some time and I got carried away fiddling with it. It was a particularly sparse scribble (as you can see), but it had something about it that made me want to work off it.

That's how these guys normally start off you see. A pencil scratching of lines that appeal (though usually a little more complete than in this case) then drawing over the scan in Inkscape.

But yeah. I was impressed by how easily the finished three came from that empty scrawl once i got going. I have other barely-sketches too, lying around waiting for a spark of inspiration to ignite them. Sometimes I'll develop them to a lineart like this, sometimes I'll just re-sketch them to try and get back into the groove I had when I made them originally. And sometimes they just languish. There's one of a guy with a large hula-hoop thing that I want to develop, but I'm lacking a good direction to take three different hula-hoop weapons. Hollow buzzsaw-type, maybe something with spokes? Spikey might work. I don't know. I've done plenty of this already today, I have real things that I ought to be doing.

Native sworders

These go along with the spear-guys from a little while ago, obviously. Once agan they're an eclectic mish-mash. The big chunky masks are shields this time (and a different style) and the weapons are Aztec-styled for no better reason than me liking the look.

Shields are hard to do because the obscure so much of the figure. In this case, they're also at a really weird angle. Probably best not to think too hard about it.

The shaggy furs/feathers/pelts too are rather all-over-the-place. I'm only really content with them on #1. But the rest are good enough.

Lots of poor node discipline here - I've slipped into bad habits. I can't quite bring myself to care enough to revise them though. Done is done. The hairdos and #1's weapon are borderline, but the shoulder-pelt things are where I really let it all go. If I come back to them I'll probably be pruning there. The masks are node-whores too, but there's not really any way around that when they're the focal point of the character.

The pose is progress though. Something other than just standing in generic hero pose. More action is good. I'm not yet at the point where I'm reskinning old skeletons, though as ever it remains a possibility.

Attack types.

So, you have a spread of maybe 3-5 characters. There are three kinds of attack - Special, conditional and default- and each character has one attack of each kind. Exactly what those attacks are and what they do depends on the character and how they've been customised.

I'm fairly happy with this idea - it seems to have a lot of good design space.. Lots of things that can be done with it, lots of room for players to be clever and not too much option bloat.

I should explain what the attack types mean. They're listed in order of priority:

A special attack is usually particularly strong. This is because each turn only one of your characters can use a special attack. That's the only decision you make each turn; which of your characters will use a special, or choosing to pass and have no character use a special.

The conditional attacks can be quirky. They're defined not just by what effect they have, but under what conditions they are used.

Default attacks are what a character will use if you didn't tell them to use a special and the conditions for their conditional attack are not met. These are usually simple and uncomplicated/boring.

Conditionals are the clever bit here. Although you only make decisions regarding specials, you'll be trying to manipulate the game to maximise use of your conditionals and hinder your opponent's. They also give characters a bit of variety in how they act, even when you're not directly controlling them.

Examples will probably help. Let's come up with a theoretical set of attacks for a hermit crab-type guy.

Special: Shear claw. 3 damage to opposing enemy.
Conditional: Retreat into shell. When at 2 health or less, gain one armour and two regeneration.
Default: Pinch. 1 damage to opposing enemy.

So, generally he makes a weak attack, but if he's been badly wounded, he'll hide and try to recover. This is potentially useful, but since it prevents him from attacking it's a double edged sword. Fortunately you can override that with his powerful special attack if you need to.

So if you're using this hermit crab guy effectively, your tactics will probably revolve around keeping him healthy via healing effects or using his special to keep up the pressure late game.

Notice how the conditional isn't just another attack, it defines his behaviour absent player intervention. This is what I think is interesting about it. It gives characters a kind of personality. And because you can vary both the trigger and the effect, there's a potentially huge amount of variety possible here. Conditionals can be advantages, drawbacks, or neither.

They also make "AI" for enemy teams of characters almost unnecessary. I reckon you could just have the computer activate a random character's special and because of conditionals, it'd still result in a fairly varied and natural-seeming play. Clever design of conditionals for world enemies can also give them variety and personality without needing to tell the computer how to handle them - it's all done by the same basic ruleset.

Random conditional ideas:
* Alpha strike. Powerful attack triggers only on the first round of combat.
* Laziness. Character does nothing - triggers only on first round of combat.
* Second wind. Character heals themselves if they only have 1 hit point left - important to try and play around this if you see an enemy with it.
* Combo strike. Triggers if you used a default attack last turn. This makes for a in character that goes "Attack A, attack B, attack A, attack B".
* Charged strike. Triggers if you used a special last turn. The special is some kind of charging-up move and the conditional next turn is the real reason to use it.
* Last man standing. A more powerful attack that is used when this is the your only character left. Another one to play around.
* Vs X. Triggers when you're opposite an eney character of type X, dragon, giant, wizard, swordsman, whatever.
* Status effect. Triggers whenever your opponent lacks the status effect this inflicts. This means the character will try to put an effect on the enemy, and then refresh it when it expires.

And so on. I think it has potential.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Who watches the limes?

These were done just for fun - not as part of the compiled limes poster. Well, that's not entirely true. While I was scraping the bottom of the barrel for lime ideas I did a quick+easy Dr Manhattan lime and a Rorschach-masked lime (radioactive and sociopathic sabre-toothed limes, respectively). But then I thought better of it - I wanted the limes poster to be somewhere between KoL-based and generic. Other-media references that weren't already KoL mainstays (like the protagonist) didn't deserve a look-in.

And then I got inspired so I sidelined those two watchlimes and got on with making more proper limes.

But yeah, I came back to them. Gave Rorschach a hat and decided to try and do the whole lot. It seemed a fun kind of challenge. After all, Rorschach and Manhattan were the low-hanging fruit.

I like The ozymandius lime. He's recognisably him, despite not actually having that particular hair style in the book. It works though I think.

Sally Jupiter was the hardest, sicne she doesn't have a gimmick. Her long hair feels a little like a cheat, but there you go.

Comedian was the last one I did, and my favourite. I like the scar, though I should probably have moved it closer to the tooth so it was more obviously intruding on the mouth for his signature smile.

Silliness: I arranged them in the order that they first appear in the book, Ozy excepted for obvious reasons. Maybe that means I should have put the smiley-lime at the top? Meh.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Citrus explosion

Here's the rest of the limes. Seventy seven. Well, seventy-six, counting the n'est pas une lime. Even less if you count the skewered/sliced limes proportionally. And past that awkward questions arise about whether if the snow lime isn't really a lime, why is the plexiglass one? So let's just call it seventy-seven and leave it at that.

Limes of note:

Limebat - KoL features a variety of very silly bats. Limebat is conspicuous by its absence. Until now!

Mariachi lime - Should I have given him a moustache? An enormous moustache seems appropriate, but the sombrero seems enough. Not all of them can be OTT.

Lime in a coconut - Very silly. Very very silly. Fun.

Ninja/bandit - The bandit is probably the crappest of the limes. See, the "joke" is that he's just the ninja lime with the mask inverted. Which probably amuses nobody but me, since everyone just said he looked like a ninja turtle. He became more and more acceptable to me as I added more limes to distract from him.

Poisonous amazon sabre-toothed tree-lime - This is another one that's mainly funny to me. I just find the idea of Poisonous amazon tree-*s to be intrinsically funny. Like ducks. Or fridges. Poisonous amazon sabre-toothed tree-fridges are too funny to ever be depicted by human hands.

Anime lime - You try anime-ising something with no eyes. I think it came out ok considering, but I feel a little guilty including it because it's not terribly KoLish (already had a protagonist lime for that) and it looks incredibly lame when people try to parody anime-style and get it wrong. I keep looking back to this guy with scepticism, but I guess that mouth's passable.

Cubist lime - I'm pretty sure that anyone who actually groks cubism will think the same of my cubist lime as i think of most attempts to parody an anime/manga style.

Plexiglass lime - Probably my favourite. The plexiglass effect came together unexpectedly easily.

Brimstone lime - Necessary to complete the ascension rewards, but an arse and a half to do. Still not happy with it. I mean, the brimstone effect looks good to me. It seems a nice compromise between the KoL graphics for brimstone (glittery rock) and something that looks ok next to the plexi, but the shape of the lime is lost and the whole thing just seems flat. Not going back to this bastard any time soon though.

Harem lime - This was one of the OTT limes. Lots of detail, but it seemed kind of necessary to make her (or him!) properly haremish.

Giant lime - KoL giants are distinguished by having beards. Applying this to a lime amuses me. I guess that actually making him huge as well works against the joke, but it would be a bit weird otherwise.

Pygmy limes and assault squad - These are pretty faithful lime version of the KoL monsters. I probably shouldn't have double-dipped the pygmy thing for two limes, but a pygmy lime next to the giant lime seems obvious. And doing things like "pygmy lime", "pygmy lime assault squad" amuses me. I did it with the Hey Deze lime, Limebat and Hey Deze limebat further up too. I came this close to doing a batlime, but couldn't work out where in the order it should come for optimum hilarity.

Tiger lime - It made sense in my head, ok?

Lime mime - I like this guy. He's another "how do I do this with no eyes?" deal. The teardrop makes it. Eye makeup that doesn't require eyes. Without it he just looks like nothing in particular.

Lobotomised lime - This one nearly felt cheap to me. But the lime-juice drool came out nicely I think, and the pith-scar too (used same technique to improve igor's scars and when i did the comedian watchlime). So all in all I rather like him after all.

Key lime - Is that what key lime is? Some kind of jelly stuff made of lime that goes in pies? I'm not sure. Anyway - this is an interpretation of the KoL key lime joke.

Skewered/sliced lime - The skewered lime is an actual KoL item and so needed to be represented. In the process I made a lime cross-section. I liked the look of the sliced lime and wanted to include it just for that, but couldn't come up with an amusing name/caption. So in the end I just stuck it next to the skewered lime to sort of imply that that was what was left of the lime that segment was taken from.

Professor lime - Last one I added to the poster. Not terribly happy with it. Mortar boards tougher than expected.

Sabre-toothed salad salad - Salad is hilarious.

Suddenly; armoured guys.

Sudden unexpected productivity! Inspiration hit this morning and I managed to get these done in pretty short order. No complications, no real difficulties, no burnout. Unexpected, but I'm not going to complain.

It was the collars you see - I saw a breastplate with a really nice tall, open collar and when I tried to scribble on of my own, these came out. The swooshy cloth roby-thing covering their right leg was an idea I yoinked from some half-remembered Rackham miniature I once saw. Saves me having to do a symmetrical set of complicated plate-armoured legs. Implying complex 3d shapes with 2d outlines is easy - but doing the same shape twice from different angles to order is hard. besides, the cloth looks kind of cool and helps moderate the nodecount and level of detail.

Fairly complicated by my standards, but (possibly due to the limes) I think they're allowable. Oops - just noticed that I missed the second guy's axe - that quad shape on the blade is meant to be a gap. No big deal - this is just a quick white-out to make 'em look a little more presentable here.

So, armour. Lots and lots of armour. Fun. Not sure how interchangable the bits are. I kind of themes the armours, so #2 has that curved/pointy thing going on, while #3 has the triple-layer. I oculd probably get away with mix and match still. Interesting (to me) how different the looks are. #1 seems like a warrior-monk kind of guy, probably because that weird armoured headband is remeniscent of a tonsure. #2 Seems like a paladin or generic knight for reasons I'm unsure of, while #3's banded armour makes him look a bit more menacing and sophisticated.

Saturday 4 April 2009

Lime crisis

I've gotten kind of distracted from my vector peeps lately. Perhaps I need a new angle of attack or just a new project to overthink.

Still, not doing veeps doesn't mean I've not been doing anything. I play Kingdom Of Loathing a lot, and one of its iconic images is the sabre-toothed lime. One day I drew a lime in inkscape (to fill up a blank spot in a KoL-related flowchart) and it grew on me. I felt like doing something vaguely interesting with it and I was bored, so I copied and pasted it a few times and started noodling with them.

This was the first batch. Kind of mediocre, though I like what I came up with for a lime skeleton though. I reckon that if sabre-toothed limes have skeletons, that's what they look like.

So, to say that they went down down well would be an understatement. So I did some more. There was no shortage of ideas. I mean you've seen this kind of thing before, right? A single image or character modded slightly and wittily captioned? I can't remember exactly where I've seen it done, probably overpriced university posters, but it's a known technique.

Anyway - I embraced that and started churning out limes. Which was great fun. They're easy to do, I'm working off a simple template with no post-vector colouring or texturing attempts. I'd had a fair bit of practice with inkscape recently (as demonstrated on this blog) and this was all the same techniques, so it went easier. Slightly different style and conventions so it was a bit of a change. In fact, because I wasn't making a deliberate effort to keep nodes to a minimum, it was actually easier than some of the veep stuff. The lime skeleton's teeth or the igor lime's stitches are examples of the kind of indulgence I allowed myself. Squidgy hats were another, though not seen here.

Fun times.

I ended up doing seventy-seven in all, plus some bonus. I'll pop them up here with commentary in lieu of doing anything new I think. It's fun to talk through this stuff.