Archive for the ‘Influences’ Category


Old Skool Fantasy Post

June 26, 2007

Gamasutra have an iteresting article about failed games with a link to a series of fascinating blog posts by Joe Ludwig who worked on the never-released Middle-Earth Online. One thing in the article that stood out was a reference to a never-made Warhammer MMO (pre-Mythic’s WAR) which is described as having “…a darkly realistic style, something that hearkened back to Games Workshop’s earlier more baroque style.”Anyone who has read my earlier posts about artists that have influenced my own style will know that I’m a huge fan of John Blanche‘s and Ian Miller‘s work for Games Workshop.

I’m sure that the non-realistic, ‘cartoony’ style of World of Warcraft has had some influence on its popularity because it has such a recognisable style and is therefore more salient than games that aspire to photo-realism. While the early Warhammer style shares some similarities with WoW (WoW borrowed many of it’s aethetic flourishes) it was darker, more organic and grittier. Even the humans looked pretty monstrous and ‘corrupt’ and I’ve always felt that a game with this aesthetic would look stunning. In fact a Warhammer game with witch hunting, political and physical corruption and all the elements that were found in the roleplaying version of the game would be brilliant. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that the Warhammer ‘world-story’ was a somewhat wasted on the wargame.

Look at these images below. Ok the quality of artwork may not be as polished as you would expect from a contemporary game release, but there is a raw style there: big shoulder pads; dramatic skies; impractical armour and weaponry; huge attention to detail etc.




Anyway, I was going to write a post based on this article from the Guardian gamesblog, but I managed to miss the radio show with Steve Jackson (Fighting Fantasy, as if you didn’t know) and Austin Grossman (Deus Ex). So I know that this blog gets a lot of views for the John Blanche post, so I’m going to treat everyone to some of his work from Steve Jackson’s epic Fighting Fantasy series Sorcery! truly the best FF books ever written and still immensely enjoyable to play today, combining the classic FF karma-free logic of un-deserved death with a cheat-frustrating magic system. Just imagine these images in 3D and if there are any modders reading this please make something that looks like this…






Knightmare begins

June 6, 2007

I just have to post this:

Clickable Culture devoted a whole post to this show even though they’re US based and completely unfamiliar with it. Having grown up with this in the UK, I can only voice the opinions of many others ‘BRING KNIGHTMARE BACK!’

Failing that, there’s also an interesting post about a LARP-like RTV show, so give us that instead.


Brit Lane

February 13, 2007

Here’s the other ‘project’ that I was working on I mentioned in my last post. A recreation of Hogarth’s classic Gin Lane, but with Britney Spears in the role of ‘drunk mother dropping baby’ something she does pretty well in real life I understand.

In place of St Giles is a figurative version of LA, Kitson is on the left and Fred Segal in the background. Paris Hilton adopts the role of Grim Reaper, something I can imagine her taking to far too easily.

I’ve included a detail of the original Gin Lane for comparison.

Brit lanegin-lane.jpg


Influences: John Blanche

October 6, 2006

Yeah I was a Games Workshop geek as a teen, I only got over the shame of the whole thing a few years ago, and now I’ve embraced my misanthropic youthful past in a way that’s probably slightly unhealthy (I’ll come back to this at a later date).

John Blanche was so my favourite artist of the lot of them. His stuff was just so twisted and weird. It wasn’t striving for the ultra-photorealistic look of Boris Vallejo or the cheapo stuff you found in AD&D Monster Manuals, but some dream-like point between the two, highly stylised but with depth and detail that made it feel eerily real.

As with all artists, John’s style has developed over the course of his career, but when I encountered his work in the mid to late 80s it was going through a bit of a punk inspired phase. As he puts it in Ratspike (currently OOP, try Ebay):

“The first images of primal man would concern themselves with hunting scenes, heroic action, mighty beasts, death masks, war paint, fetishes and trophies. Today we see the same sorts of themes represented in punk haircuts, studded leather and even the imagery employed in films like Bladerunner and Aliens. This is the heritage of Western culture, and that is what I’m trying to tap when I paint”

I’d never seen fantasy art like it, it was by its nature cheesey but it seemed way less innocent than the Vallejos, Frazettas, Achilleos and all the TSR artists, it looked dangerous and therefore more exciting.

As I understand it John is still at Games Workshop as Art Director and is still painting, check out his website.

Below is what I believe is John’s defining piece, Amazonia Gothique. Okay, she’s still wearing clothing entirely impractical for battle in the traditional fantasy female style (check out the stilettoes) but at least she’s not some vacuous blond bimbo in a chainmail bikini.


Influences: Dark Mod

October 2, 2006

The Thief series (The Dark Project, The Metal Age and Deadly Shadows) produced some of my utterly favourite computer games, so I was naturally pissed when Eidos decided they weren’t going to put up the funds to get any more made. Thankfully, a dedicated team of modders have taken Doom 3 engine and decided to carry on where sell-out Eidos left off. The Dark Mod are putting together an engine for ‘Thief-like’ gaming (they’re not continuing the Thief series, that would be copyright infringement), which while still a few years off, looks like it’ll be well worth the wait.

Check out these screenshots





The design itself is fairly generic ‘gothic’ style, what really makes these images for me is the lighting – really dense shadows hiding god knows what. The Thief series always excelled at atmosphere, which derived from a combination of the character you played, the dramatic lighting, the amazing sound effects and soundtrack, and the cool as hell story lines. One ambition I have is to try and capture this atmosphere in a drawing, something I reckon will be pretty hard given the static nature of the medium, but I have to give it a go don’t I.

Check out this cool demo too