The Art of James Teeple

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Leicester, United Kingdom
I'm 21 / DMU Art Student / British-American.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Birth of a Colossus

Reforged in the fires of mount Doom!!!

The Birth of a Colossus as never witnessed before.

Agal'matol - The Ancient Guardian

 This is what happens sometimes when im bored. I end up going back to my old work and seeing if I  can give it a new lick of paint, so to speak.
So thats what happened with this old fella, and im fairly pleased with the outcome. I wanted to portray head in the air and spewing magma as he lifts out of the churning fires of death.
Dramatic yes I know. lol

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Masters Project: Frank Frazzetta Study

The Artist I've chosen to emulate as closely as possible, Is one of my all time favorite artists Frank Frazetta, I talked more about in my first blog.

His artwork is one of the sole inspirations that pushed me into art when i was growing up and since discovering his full works at a young age, I was mesmerized ever since. Frank's work had that affect on a lot of peoples lives so I've learned. He is considered a grandmaster of his genre of art, and his legendary status will carry on through his legacy.

This is a kind of tribute to him as he recently passed away last year and I've always wanted to try and emulate his style and hopefully unlock some secrets by doing so.

I am going to be painting Death Dealer, one of his more famous and iconic illustrations

Here is my first stage done. I focused on masking out an accurate silhouette before adding colours with digital brush strokes trying to emulate the oil paints he used.



Interesting Character...

Sanchez the Gardener.

Master Gardener

Elements of game design, part 3: Character

 For me I would say that the character's importance in a game varies depending on its genre. But increasingly more and more these days, developers are focusing on developing a story behind the avatar you might play in an attempt to give you that same emotional connection that a good film does with important characters. If you can develop an emotional connection to your Avatar then the world around you and the NPC's that fill it become largely more important and interesting. Dull mindless games ultimately lead to boredom and the novelty of new special effects, increased graphics or new combat mechanics, just doesn't excite in a lasting way for true gamers.

Most films try very hard early on to make you invest in their character(s) so that if something happens to them it will provoke a memorable response be it good or bad. Epic films such as The Lord of The Rings trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson, have a job finding the right actors for the characters that are already alive in the books. And it can be incredibly difficult to successfully give a face to something that has long since existed in the imagination of thousands of Tolkein fans prior. But he pulled it off because he had a vision, like all those other readers and he hunted them down till he found the ones perfect for the job. And it pays off as anyone would know from seeing the films. So i do think that games should consider the appearance of their characters, and sometimes no matter how interesting the story is or the world may seem. If your character runs like he's soiled his pants and was smacked in the face with a frying pan before he learned to talk, well then I think some serious rethinking and redoing is needed. And that is enough to kill any game.

  "To create a truly immersive game experience with a compelling fantasy world, you have to populate that world with real characters. Not just characters that behave realistically on the screen, but characters that ARE real to you, the game’s creator. The more you know your own characters, the more real they will become, and the more they will help draw the player into your game’s imaginary word. It’s not enough for your characters to have distinctive speech patterns and tics. They need actual histories, motives, dreams, and secrets. Then they will have real depth with which pull the player in, and your fantasy world will be come a real place that the player loves to visit, and can't wait to get back to when they leave."
Frank Cifaldi

Most games now days that attempt to emphasize the main character you play as and the world your in, have you play in third person view. This allows you to take in more of your surroundings, and to more importantly, view how your character passes through or interacts with the game assets present. Almost like you are the hand of god unseen but every loving and caring for your avatar guiding them through the story.  The Mass Effect games one, two I would say for me nearly nailed the character design and story driven 3rd person action/adventure. The worked hard to make sure you had a lot of choice in the game as to what kind of hero or Villan you were going to be as the story lines played out. And it felt quite fresh how they did it with the multi choice menus during dialogues and in game cinematic type cut scene. For most it made you really become aware of the intricacies of the story and think carefully about how you made your decisions as Commander Shepard .

Heavy Rain, created by Quantum Dream for the Playstation three, is a good example of publishers pushing the story telling aspect of the game with a large portion of the game being cinematic in its play style. Meaning you watch your character go through a set choice of scenarios which you influence but they play out without direct control of your character. It was a bold game and quite novel but it did very well and I think since there has been a increase in cinematic games.

Elements of Game Design part 2: Art Direction

Art Directors In games

What do they do?

Im an art Director [click]

An art Director for game design is responsible for a number of very important things. One being in charge of the overall look and feel of the game being produced, both in the way that the player see's and interacts with his environment and how they play the game. The term 'art director' is really just a general title for a multitude of similar job functions such as advertising, marketing, film and television, publishing and Video games.  They are also responsible for both the active and passive art in the game. This involves them working with an art team to produce the best adapted look for the game they are trying to create. The position is a relatively new one within the games industry and has evolved alongside the constantly changing industry, where once it was tasked with the producer thair role has shifted more towards managing the time efficiently and completing the game on time and on budget.

What is involved in terms of IT?
95% games these days are created exclusively using digital art, as well as designs in a 3D rendering program, or traditional 2D animation program.  Computing power makes the job of animating a character, or manipulating the camera in an environment a breeze, and scanning and rendering are done entirely with the aid of computers saving masses of time and money. An art director needs to have knowledge to understand and harness all of these elements so that they can guide the visual aspect of the game well. The all have to be able to speak the same lingo or at least understand it. Guided by the art director and their vision, the lead artist works under them to carry out that vision with the team.

Art Direction in films:
 "Art Directors act as project managers for the biggest department on any film - the art department. They facilitate the production designer's creative vision for all the locations and sets that eventually give the film its unique visual identity. Art Directors are responsible for the art department budget and schedule of work, and help the production designer to maximize the money allocated to the department. Art Directors are usually requested by the production designer, and are responsible for the assistant art director, the draughtsman (as many as 20 draughtsmen may be employed on big budget films), the art department assistant(s) while simultaneously monitoring the budget, this is highly skilled work. Many Art Directors work on television dramas and commercials, as well as on films. The hours are long and the job can involve long periods working away from home. Art Directors work on a freelance basis."

In many ways the job of an art director in the films industry is the same as in the games industry. but they have evolved for two different commercial machines and so what most significantly differs is the team behind them. Where an art director on a film may need 10 draughtsmen to plan out the scenes before they go to film, there is less of that in games. However games have to consider elements that films don't access such as player experience interacting with the environment, mood, feel, sounds and game play. In the games industry an Art director has to finely tailor those crucial threads that keep the game cohesive and smooth so the player has the best possible sensory experience.

A good recent example of a game that uses artwork as its main selling point would be Bastion. The entire game is hand painted apart from you play a 3D character from RTS point of view. Bastion has been quite successful because the game feels like it all fits. And its a joy to look at and play. The soundtrack is totally in sinc with the art of the game and the play style. And that was all carefully orchestrated by the team that worked on it. Guided by the art director and their vision, the lead artist works under them to carry out that vision with the team.

"An Art Director in Game Design works closely with all forms of art, digital, pencil, painting and sculpture, in order to be able to properly express their creative vision.  An Art Director also works closely with animators and computer programmers to express their art in a way that doesn't draw attention to the technical processes involved.  Those who love a well-sculpted game environment and want to help make their own would do well as an Art Director"

Elements of Game Design part one: The Designers!

Years back when I was seriously into games on a day to day basis, i.e get home eat food, sit down and kill grunts all night kinda scenario. I did at times wish I could be sitting in the driving seat behind the making of these wondrous time leachers. But in all honesty I didn't understand squat of what it means to be a game designer. I just thought it meant, waking up in the morning and remember an awesomely cool creative dream I just had, as I often did most nights and still do. Then Telling the team about it and making it...
But of course in reality things aren't quite that simple. But the same principle applies. You need to have that kind of mind I guess, its just a whole lot more complicated and tricky to get your cool Idea anywhere but in fond memory. To this day I still hope to design a game at least once in my career. I would consider it an enormous achievement... unless it flopped big time. But even then, ah well. I just long to see some of my more vivid and startlingly unfamiliar ideas come to life in a working game environment.

So Game designers...

Ive unconsciously had a lot of experience with these folk and their creative directive genius. Certain Designers spring to mind that I would like to talk about and what exactly made them significant to me in my gaming history. But what makes these guys important is not just that they are key in the  ideas and stories behind the games, but also in directing the mood and feel of the experience and not to mention the delicate job of coercing the rest of the team to work their butts off and meet the deadlines. They deal with all manner of things from Communication and marketing to art design.

Game Designer number 1:

Ken Rolston: He was the lead Designer for Bethesda Soft works for the Elder scrolls games Morrowind and Oblivion and their expansion packs. As game designers go, I and many others I'm sure consider him a legend among few. Because those games probably ate the best part of a thousand hours of my spare time and "not spare time". And I still go back to them. Ken originally retired after completing oblivion and after 25 years working in the games industry. But soon returned only a year later to begin work on some more epic RPG's ;)
Good old ken.

Game Designer Number 2:

James Ohlen: He is a Canadian game designer who started out writing for and testing Shattered Steel, released by Bioware in 1996, and then he landed a job as lead designer for Baldurs gate. One of the greatest CRPG's of all time and, since then has worked on many other titles I loved and played over the years. Games Such as Neverwinter nights, Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic and most importantly Baldurs gate 2. Just wow. He is still going thought, recently he lead the design team for Bioware's MMO Star Wars The Old Republic which was only recently released.
Game Designer Number 3:

Cliff Bleszinski: Cliff is the design director for Epic Games based in Canada. He started young working on the Unreal engine and is acredited for his hand in the Unreal franchise. His biggest game to date arguably was Gears of war. Which was the first 18 shooter I'd played and was probably the first time I remember giving birth to true gamer rage. That game rocked, and partly because it as so team based, tactical and competitive, but mainly because of the insane gore effects it introduced to the franchise. I can remember many occasions where my jaw dropped because of shock and awe at what I'd seen in that game. Bare in mind I was under age to play it... Like anyone cared though aye.

These guys; and it isn't just coincidence that they are all guys, because only recently are women really starting to make an entry into the games industry and take up roles such as Lead Designer. It was a very uncommon thing indeed a decade back. But these people All have a few things strongly in common. If you ever hear them talk about their game projects or the vision. They don't just talk they story tell. Its clear they are very passionate and have a lot to put on the table that can help others to work together and share and understanding of the same idea. because as an artist, once you can see the world and understand the world, you an begin to see your own idea's being born inside that world, that fit and are cohesive. Because as a game designer, the last thing you want is a game full of mish-mash cliches but a solid idea. Its a terrible shame to be branded the classic review of "Had so much potential but just couldn't live up to it." Its all about that complete gaming experience.
All in all, it seems to be a good game designer, you gotta be prepared to nurture that game as it grows right from the first few roots and be there guiding it and evaluating it the entire way through to maturity.

Leicester City Guild Hall

This is my final render for the Visual Design Guild hall task.

I found a room in this old stoney cold Victorian guild hall upstairs, which seemed to be the library of sorts.  Its walls were adorned with bookshelves housing many hundred old tomes, leather bound and decaying. In prime position center of the room, stretched a long old wooden table and on top lay open a large book. It was there presumably for viewing purposes, but it was certainly antique.
At that time the Sun shone brightly through a window on the back wall and struck the book leaving most else unlit. Its pages illuminated and there was a sense of mystery about it. Written in Latin, I could not read it. But it was such a magical shot that I had to capture it. 

Painted digitally, using CS5

Friday, 20 April 2012

Game Review: Fable- The Lost Chapters
Fable: The lost Chapters is a Action  RPG genre type of game. It was developed for Xbox, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows by Big Blue Box, a satellite developer of Lionhead Studios. The game was bublished by Microsoft. 

The Plot:
In the land of Albion, you start off your adventure as a young boy safe in the confides of his village and blissfully unaware of the approaching danger and epic adventure he would eventually engulf his life.

The main characters:
You- The hero: Your adventure really kicks off as you hit you late teens/ early adulthood when you begin to venture outside of the guild of hero’s and take up more dangerous and difficult quests.
Thunder: An enormous black hero that you meet very early on in the game and encounter again quite violently later in the quest line.
Twin Blade:
The hulk sized leaded of a large bandit clan.
Your guide
Mage: A seemingly wise and friendly wizard who helps you on your journeys until the story takes a shocking twist.
Sister: Long lost sister who you meet in your earliest stages of childhood and don’t see again after the bandit attack on Oakvale for many years…
Jack of Blades:
The main villain in Fable.
My thoughts of the game in the first few hours were of mixed feelings. At first I didn’t really get it. The art style was quite unique and although starting the game as a boy was a new concept to me, I don’t think I really appreciated the first hour or so until it started to click. But I guess like any new game it normally takes a little while to adjust to its play style.
However, once I got that first pang of excitement after slaughtering a giant killer wasp and then parading its head around the guild, I was intrigued. Then came the fart emote… and I was hooked.
What I think I loved most about Fable, was the humor. At times clever, crude, abrupt and downright dirty! It was just hellishly fun running up to guard and farting in their face or flirting with the local tarts around town. Oh and of course the combat was good fun too. I particularly liked the magic system. It felt quite unique and there is so many spells that it gives you a real sense of choice as to what kind of magic user you wanted to become. I also loved how you had complete control over what talents, physical traits or spells you wanted to progress and master and, how they could directly affect the appearance of your hero.
Customization is one of the main reasons I love role playing games and how they give you a strong sense of control over your character and who they are.
For me there was a huge vanity appeal in Fable. One of my favorite obsessions was collecting the many tattoo cards and haircut styles out there to customize my appearance. But the other interesting dynamic was that you had lasting evidence of a tattoo scar after you replaced it with another one. This made you want to think carefully about how you abused your hero’s appearance. That’s if all that really mattered to you, I did to me at least.

My personal RPG gaming mark criteria:
Gameplay: 9.5
Combat: 9
Movement: 9
NPC Interaction: 10
Challenges and Quests: 9.5
What I liked:
Strongest points:
What I didn’t like:
Weakest Points:

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Sea Creature- Reef Char development

Version 2


Diablo Inspired Demon concept.
Like most of my surprisingly refined paintings i manage to do, this started off as a mindless doodle and grew and grew. Eventually I had gotten so engrossed in it that i decided to paint it and try out some different looks for it. As you can see here, the evolution of the design through to the more final painting. where i am currently exploring backgrounds and whether or not to expand it to a torso and so on...
My Inspiration to start this doodle came after watching an interview with Christian lightner who is a lead Designer with Blizzard Entertainment and is currently working on Diablo Three.
If you havent already seen it, this is a invaluable insight into what goes on in the art scene on big budget games told by one of the pro's.
Christian Lightner- GDC Vault

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Previews, Reviews, Commentary and lies.

Previews, Reviews, Commentary and lies.

The games press has been dubbed as “corrupt, lazy and fundamentally stupid.” Source writer Kieron Gillan tells us this and also gives us an insight as to why these views may be held about the games press. He highlights key issues that game journalists today face which fundamentally make it difficult to write a good article about a subject that truly deserves it without cutting corners. He expresses a lack of time being a big issue, and that riders simply cannot spend too long on any given subject as the deadlines for most magazines and articles are tight.

This results in unrefined and often rushed reviews and commentary making its way as a staple in game magazines, videos, journals etc. Without the commercially driven pressure on deadlines I'm sure many journalists and reviewers would like to refine their opinions on the topic they are talking about. Of course there is always going to be reviewers who simply Write decent review but maybe without the turnaround pressure the games press would have a better name overall.

That mainly applies to the commercial sector of game press. Such as magazines. Certainly in my experience I have owned and read many gamer mags and can agree that not all articles seem worth the buy to read… but for the most part they are better than what I could find on the internet and more concise.
On the other hand there is other forces driving the games press and ranking systems are an important part of their roles in influencing games sales. What is more, where does an objective ranking system fit in if anywhere?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Gladiator- A bit old now but worth a post...

With this project I think I was most inspired by the recent series Spartacus Blood and Sand. It helped lead me to this quite simple costume design and also made me really want to focus on homing my anatomy as best as I could within the tri limit.

I modeled this character from geometric shapes and did not use a high poly model.

There was many new hurdles for me in this project. Such as never having modeled a human form in 3D software or rigged anything before. Also It was a my first experience of painting textures from scratch.
But I tackled them like I do all such things and just picked up the tools and got stuck in! In the end I actually really enjoyed the modeling and felt very satisfied when i finished the the character. I'm quite pleased with myself and proud of what I achieved this time. But I know I can do better so I am just looking forward to doing more of the same and doing it better.

This was my finished painted Diffuse texture. Painted at 2048, scaled down to 1024.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Time to love myself

By I mean spend hours drawing my own sweet face.
This is of course, the Self portrait task. Something I'm quite looking forward too because portraits are something I'm quite familiar with and feel quite comfortable doing.
anyway lets not waste time.. I got stuck in!

Ok so they start off a bit "Errrrr ?"

Getting better! but still not quite right... I'm discovering its very difficult to draw and look at yourself in a mirror without shifting position so subtly so many times! This one was A3

That's more like it! I'm finally happy with this one, and its slightly odd as i decided to draw in one shade of blue colouring pencil and on pink card. I spent about 4 hours on that one and purely by chance i have discovered a new love for colouring pencils. Truly, they are so nice to use for shading.

So overall im happy with the outcome. Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, 2 April 2012

Musical Painting sessions!

Music and art! Put them together and what have you got?

well on this occasion I was listening to Distubed- Down with the sickness on loop for first time and I couldn't get enough of it. I was in one of those sorts of moods you know, crank the music up loud, fingers start drumming the desk and thankfully the song drowns out your pitiful attempt to sing along but its fun anyway?.. Yea nice mental image there.
Anyway I started drawing on my tablet and about an hour later, this is what emerged...
The strange thing was, I wasn't really conscious of it while i was painting, it sort of came out through the music. I think i'm gonna do it again some more.

There are a lot of things wrong with this and that don't make total sense, but then its art. It doesn't need to :D

Ciao Later