Nov 25, 2012

Qin Kong (wip)

Qin is the sidekick of some eccentric and powerful Hong Kong triad boss, and guards the entrance to his opium den, serving as a miniboss in a hypothetical brawler game á-la Final Fight. The model is work in progress, an exercise for a masterclass I'm having recently.

It is just a Zbrush decimation in the 3D visor, so it has lost most of the detail and the topology is random yet. Also, I'm testing the visor itself. I love the idea, much better than screenshots, so if people don't have many problems viewing it, I'll probably present more models like that in the future.

Note: If you see the model black with an ATI card, you'll need updated Catalyst drivers.

Aug 13, 2012

Preaching in a vacuum

My view of religion would have been quite opposed to this many years ago. It's so good to evolve as a person.

There's a bit of Moebius in the design, and some Zdzislaw Beksinski noxiousness in the atmosphere.

Aug 11, 2012


I'm not much into this speedpainting stuff, but it seems like a great way to get out of a creative block, and surprise yourself with something you wouldn't usually do. It has some William Turner semi-abstraction I kinda like.

Aug 2, 2012

Rant 2 - about emotions (and having something to say)

I read the other day this quote from some 2K bigwig: "Until games are photorealistic, it'll be very hard to open up to new genres. We can really only focus on action and shooter titles; those are suitable for consoles now." It made me so sad.

His point, going a bit deeper into his comments, seems to be that emotions in CG characters won't be believable until there's photorealism, and that somehow impedes the creation of new genres. How can so many things be wrong in just one statement? First off, new genres, or at least new gameplay experiences, many of which cannot even be fit into a genre, are being constantly born. Needless to say, that's not happening in the AAA side of the industry, and most likely won't any time soon. The problem is not lack of emotions, but what burdens the creation of new genres is lack of risk.

You won't reach much emotional investment with a hyperrealistic ex-marine called Jason Slade, whose wife has been killed by a merc team hired by the Syndicate, and now has nothing to lose as he craves for vengeance and gets framed by his best friend from the Army days. But guess what, you CAN get emotional investment with the vulnerable, handpainted character in Braid who admits his mistake, and even with the robots in Portal 2. Let alone movies like Up or Wall-e. How does a character have to be visually realistic to be able to empathize with him?

An audience will relate to something that they can mirror from their own experience. The moment you've achieved that connection, they will be very likely to follow you in your rollercoaster experience as long as you don't break the link.

Over time, audiences also tend to get "burned down" with some cliches that they might have empathised with at some point, but its overuse forces authors to later come with less obvious connections between their story and the people they're telling it to. That's how the corny scene of the father not arriving on time to his daughter's theatre play won't work anymore. The same is true for the soldier who sees his mate die in slowmo with sentimental choirs singing in the background. Why would I empathize with that scene if you didn't care to develop those characters in the first place? They're just textured polygons to me.

When listening to this Christoph Hartmann's words, it seems as nonsensical as if someone asserted you can't achieve visual beauty until you integrate real-time radiosity rendering and displacement mapping in your graphics engine. It is such an ignorance-based comment, and so unfortunate that the industry is being ran by people with that kind of frame of mind, that it would make me lose the love for this industry if it didn't just gave me an extra burst of desire to continue and prove him wrong.

They rather invest millions in perfectly hyperreal graphics than a bit of extra talent in the writing. What about saying something meaningful with your story instead of a series of generic, premade plot twists? Does every story need to have the depth of a Justin Bieber hit to "appeal to a broader audience"? You might be either dangerously underestimating your playerbase's IQ, or even worse, letting the guys in the suits mess with the writing process.

Jul 30, 2012


Here's one of the few concepts I got to do for Deadlight. I got the chance to polish it a bit, so good enough. The game is out this Wednesday in XBLA and you should be saving your MS cash for it! (c) TequilaWorks 2012

Jul 22, 2012

Space Pirate

Here's a concept sketch I've done for myself, as a 3D modeling practice. Felt like doing something a bit cheesy and cliched. Typical muscular badass dude, useful for modeling anatomy, and still with some non-organic stuff to force myself into the more boring bits.

May 6, 2012

Website online

My website has been offline for a few months now due to problems with the domain ownership, but it's back online.

Mar 21, 2012

Rant 1 - the dev artist's focus

I've been recently following a series of trailers about some enemies in the highly anticipated Irrational Games' Bioshock Infinite, and a thought has come, one that's very frequently surrounding my head but that today got the need to be expressed: about what a concept artist does, and how the focus is often getting totally lost.

There was something in the designs within these videos that struck me: their amazing sobriety, and the precision with which they seemingly communicate what they need. This is something I tend to be obsessed with (often in prejudice of my own results), and I've been admiring in Irrational's concept designs since pretty much always. It's something we're really losing the focus about, in favour of just pimping pretty eyecandy.

Enter some CGWhatever page about dev art, and you'll get dozens of pretty pictures that barely communicate anything at all. Some even from top games. You know, a gorgeously-rendered ex-marine main character in his early 30s with his canonically-proportioned facial features and his five o'clock shade to show his testosterone levels, that looks as generic as every other main character you've ever seen before. Often times, the rendering time invested is an obscene amount of polishing hours, yet they communicate very little, or nothing at all. Don't get me wrong: I'm often guilty of that too.

Then you have these guys, isolated in their studio from the most clichéd trends, who incidentally do some of the most amazing games in the industry, and who focus in communicating such a depth with their designs, and in nailing the flow of sensations you get from the playing experience, without showing a real need to paint every pore or set the characters in a complete, hyper-rendered landscape. Why should they, is it for the art book? Eventually the results speak from themselves, and it's frequent to see all those multi-million preproductions and insanely rendered art dressing uninspired-looking, "meh" games.

Now, I don't want to say that nice drawings are a bad thing. It's just that at this point, the production art industry (I guess you can call it an industry per-se) has mostly lost its focus about what matters in their job and what doesn't. Our job is to design a precise idea that visually describes a particular intention and function. Sounds abstract, but that's what it is about. The rest is just gratuitous eye candy to sell our work. Some times it will help inspire the artists and even designers in the rest of the chain, but they won't need a Sixtine Chapel painted if the intention of the design is clear. Often times, to be fair, it's the idea of the movie/game itself what is so generic, and artists are pushed backwards (something I'm thankful of not suffering at Tequila), but that's definitely not as common as we tend to think, and it's a completely different story out of our reach. Often the guilt is in artists ourselves, and we won't do anything at all to enrich that experience, but rather make it as generic as it comes to us.

Anyway, Nate Wells and his Irrational art team are not alone there. I also wanted to shed a bit of light in other studios that might not have superstars of development art within their ranks, and yet they manage to nail exquisite, highly creative experiences far above their competition.

Double Fine, Valve, Twisted Pixel, Irrational... my personal kudos for how you work. I'd say the applicant limit for 'industry guru' vacancy was exceeded long ago, let's deflate our egos and get the focus in the player's experience now.

Mar 1, 2012

Brawler dude

Character exploration for a game concept I'm slowly mellowing. Even if it eventually never gets done, it's fun enough to work and iterate on it.

Feb 4, 2012


After some time working on very small, sketchy pieces, I've managed to finish something more developed and detailed.

A bit dark, I guess, specially in some monitors, and damn the compression Blogger applies.

Jan 30, 2012


Sketch inspired by the mediterranean vibe of the light in Joaquín Sorolla's paintings.

Jan 22, 2012


Sunday practice in Zbrush