Saturday, November 07, 2009

GI JOE part 2

Damn, I thought I posted this. Apparently not. So without further ado, let me bring you the blogpost that time forgot.

Not a huge amount to say, so let's let the pictures do the talking:

<- Snake Eyes Basic: Here's the base I used for all the Snake Eyes pictures. Generally I drew a head and body for all the characters and just drew over the top in various layers to create each costume change. Slower than a phone booth but more variations than a big "S".

<- Snake Eyes Arctic: His outfit looks a little bit... effeminate because I had to pull his sleeves up so that we could interchange the guns I drew. Each gun came with a hand so we could just overlay it over these illustrations. I believe I somehow merged the Duke arctic illustration here using the magic of Photoshop.

<- Snake Eyes: Movie. Take your basic Snake Eyes, and dice into small pieces. Put pieces into a searing pan with sesame oil and wasabi and stir lightly. Add belts, buckles, arm bands and enough pockets and pouches to make Rob Liefeld happy. Serve with white wine.

<- Snake Eyes: Paris. Over in France right now, if you're a super ninja, hooded coats are all the rage. Gone are the accessories and pouches, in are sleek lines and minimalism. It's so gauche to show how you're going to kill someone. Let the victim guess and then get sucked in by your designer lines, and dynamic flowing silhouette.

<- Snake Eyes Accelerator: This design was unfortunately never used. Mainly because it would have broken not just the game, but the universe itself with it's conceptual awesomeness. Snake Eyes in an accelerator suit would initiate mass suicides across the globe as humanity would have no further purpose knowing it had peaked at this moment of uber-coolness. Survivors of this zeitgeist holocaust would go into psychic shock, blocking out the entire concept of our society and go back to living in caves trying desperately to reboot humanity and society until once again they inevitably conceived the idea of Snake Eyes in an accelerator suit.

<- Scarlett Movie: I really like these armored designs for the JOE team. Drawing them I got an opportunity to get inside the thought process behind them. They look and feel reasonably practical to me. I hate stuff that looks impractical. Huge breastplates where you wonder how they bend at the waist just irritate me to look at.

<- Scarlett Fatigues: shown here modeling the desert camouflage texture. Not what I'd design for a basic fatigues outfit. But at least it doesn't make her look like a box. I remember bumping into a police officer lady I worked with when she was out of uniform. I almost didn't recognize her because she actually had a figure! Most fatigues and uniforms do nothing for either men or women.

<- Scarlett arctic: This was basically just an illustration of the outfit she wore in the film for this particular sequence. I like it. She looks cute and practical. I decided to leave out the textures for this one as I think the costume stands up quite well by itself.

<- Scarlett Accelerator: I'm pretty sure she never had one in the film, but I drew one up just for her. I used the basic Duke model and just tweaked it so it fitted over her. I tried to follow the mandate of making it still look like an accelerator suit but also let you know that there's a woman not a man inside of it.

NEXT: One last GI JOE post coming with Stormshadow and the Viper.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


I know I've been really quiet recently, but that doesn't mean I haven't been drawing my tush off. I've just been too busy to blog about it! But that's changed so let's do some catch up on what I'm allowed to talk about.

<- The Baroness in her Paris outfit modeling (of all things) a tiger camo texture. If you ever fall into a pit of tigers in the middle of a gunfight, this is what you want to be wearing. But beyond its impracticality, it looks bad ass. This whole texture is a homage to Tony "The Tiger" my housemate who coded the game.

My housemate, Tony works for an amazing company called THE VISIONAIRE GROUP (TVG). They're an incredible digital company responsible for a lot of a-level movie websites (Wolverine: Origins, Gamer, Surrogates and the Watchmen Motion Comic). He heard they needed an illustrator so he put my name forward. I did a storyboarding job for an ad for them (something I don't normally do - but this was very fun). Jeff, my contact there is a huge comic book fan so he loves my style and the way I work. The next project was the immense GI JOE FACEBOOK application.

<- The Baroness in her standard slinky and sexy movie outfit. This year in Milan they're doing full body cat suits with a large camouflage print. This is an underrated, practical design used exclusively for assaults in fake, plastic gardens. Take it into a real garden and your ass is grass.

Tony and the team designed the game and it was up to me to design the characters to fit into it. We had a meeting and a thousand and one great ideas were thrown around. The basic premise is that you start with a lowly grunt you can customize them through rewards garnered from successful battles to make a unique unstopable fighting machine. My favourite idea was that the highest level of costume you can unlock was the 1980s original Joe costumes.

<- Here's the Baroness in her plain leather outfit. I'm not sure when she wears this in the film. No, I haven't seen the film. You can read why down the bottom of this blog. I included this one without the texture because I like it just plain. There's enough going on without adding all the extra camo textures etc. I love how shiny she looks. I love drawing shiny textures. They're so much fun. Ok. Maybe it's time for me to get out more.

Unfortunately the 80s idea got shelved, but the rest of the ideas were put into play. You can choose from either three members of the Cobra team - Baroness, Storm Shadow or a Viper or the Joe team - Duke, Scarlett and Snake Eyes. They start off pretty standard, but there is an insane level of customization. Arctic gear? Sure. What color? What texture? Did you like the outfit from a particular scene in the movie? Chances are it's there and you can make it any color and any sort of camo texture you'd like. Let's not even talk about guns and vehicles.

<- Arctic Baroness was a version that wasn't in the film. But we decided that everyone would have an arctic costume. So I had to design this based off her other costumes. It's very similar to the "movie" costume with a hood and white furry bits. It's like a slinky leather version of what Han Solo wore in Empire Strikes Back. Here we see her clad in her urban texture on the arctic outfit. Perhaps she's planning on assaulting Finland or Boston in the winter?

We had to be smart about this. We had a capped budget so we had to be careful what we did within that to get the biggest bang possible. We quickly determined that if I had to draw each gun for each person, that's six versions of the same gun! I think there are 15 guns all up. So 6x15 is... a lot more than we had the time, money or will to draw. A generic gun arm pose was figured out. You will note that all of the weapon arms sit at right angles to us with the palm open towards us. This way we could draw each gun once and it would fit into anyone's hand.

<- Duke in his training outfit. I think this is what he wore all around base. I love drawing different textures, and in this illustration, playing with some very fun, very dramatic lighting. I think he's in his urban camo texture here. The texture for this illustration only went on his pants. It's like he's wearing different fatigues. He's doing what everyone does, and covering his ass.

A huge shame was that they asked me to draw the likenesses for the actors, and I think I did a really nice job. I've included them here so you can see them. But unfortunately there was some clause somewhere that the actors (or someone) needs to approve every likeness that's drawn or painted of them. Somehow that couldn't be done. It was either time or cost prohibitive.

<- Here's Duke in his combat armor outfit that he wore for the movie. I did love this design. Here it is with... aw crap. I can't even remember what texture is on it. And the thumbnail I'm staring at is too small to make it out. I've spent too many years not eating carrots and being single to make that out. But anyway, drawing it made me appreciate the subtleties of this beautiful design.

If you look at the actual game they've stuck new heads of previously approved artwork on top of the bodies that I drew. This was less than ideal, but it was the solution we all had to roll with and I totally understood why they had to do so. I was told that Paramount absolutely loved my rendition of the characters, and that many of the women especially loved what I did with the Baroness. It's a shame that the original heads didn't get used in the game, but you can see those original heads here.

<- This is Duke's fatigues with a small camo texture. There's a large and small one. I guess you might want to measure the leaf size of the surrounding foliage you're going into. Nothing more embarrassing than deploying into the field in the wrong camo size. But seriously, each camo texture created a whole different look. The small worked better on some outfits, large on the others. So we let the user decide.

I think TVG did a great job of compositing the new heads and you would never know the difference if I hadn't pointed it out.

Another thing that I did to make the characters all look like they're occupying the same space was to add a fill light. I picked the fiery glow from the promo posters that were released. It added a sense of urgency and danger. I personally love a good fill light. It can add an extra level of dimension and round out images that seemed flat before.

<- Duke in his plain arctic gear without any textures on it. I don't think Duke ever got to wear this in the movie. So I adapted it from what Ripcord wore.

The huge irony of working on this project is that I never got to see the damn film! I mean, it's not like it would have cost me anything. I could have claimed it on tax. But I dragged my poor, supportive but ultimately suffering girlfriend off to the Arclight. We got there five minutes late and they refused to sell us tickets. I mean, what were we going to do, ruin someone's enjoyment of the ads or a random trailer they could catch on the Quicktime site? Seriously people. I think we need to stand down a moment.

<- The unused Accelerator Suit that I drew. Unfortunately this bad boy never saw it into the game for one reason or another. So feast your eyes on the technological badness of the Accelerator suit. Scarlett and Snake Eyes got one too. I know what you're thinking. Snake Eyes + Accelerator suite = World freakin' Dominating Awesome. Maybe you can just pretend that he has one.