Friday, May 30, 2014

Voice-Acting for a RoboCop: Motion Comic

Here's another sort of project I got involved in recently, this time involving voice-acting within the RoboCop fandom!

RoboCop: Motion Comic

Another video project I contributed to in late 2013 and early 2014 was a fan-made video project put together by one of the heads of the RoboCop Archive. The project is a motion comic featuring an assortment of deleted scenes from RoboCop II, assembled into a short story. There were a lot of talented folks that worked on the project that are listed in the credits, and my contribution was the voice acting for Anne Lewis (RoboCop’s partner: the police officer with the dirty blond hair).

I’m not going to lie: this was an absolute treat to be involved in, and meant a lot to me since I’ve been involved with the RoboCop fandom for so long.

Here’s what the RoboCop Archive had to say about it
“The completed RoboCop II movie left a lot of scenes and ideas on the cutting room floor and that is where this motion comic comes in. Taking place around the time of the second movie this project consists of a mix of various deleted scenes from RoboCop II tied together in some kind of story.

Most of the scenes feature Lewis as that was one of the characters that suffered most from the cuts.” – The RoboCop Archive

Do you have any fandoms that are dear to your heart that you enjoy being involved in?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Altered Beast Fan Art for a Great Cause - Project KKG

This particular update is quite close to my heart, and relates to a great cause.

Primal Fury - Altered Beast Fan Art - Project KKG

Primal Fury - Altered Beast Fan Art - Project KKG - Completed on February 3rd, 2014

This is a piece of fan art of Altered Beast, but this piece isn't for me, it's for Project KKG, aka: Myself and over 100 artists from across the gaming industry are coming together to create art to be put in a book where all of the proceeds will go directly to paying for treatment for a dear friend and artist at Blizzard who is battling stage four Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma (ASPS) cancer.

If you're an artist, and are interested in finding out more about the project or lending your pen to the cause, please visit to find out more.

This piece was originally supposed to have one figure and no background and... it's certainly progressed from there! I feel like one of the iconic things about Altered Beast was that stylized graveyard you start out in so.... in it went. Without it, it just felt like a generic werewolf to me. Also it was really a fun challenge trying to remake the 16-bit Altered Beast "world" in Photoshop. Midway through I'd considered having it look more like a side-scroller, but I didn't like the idea of nullifying the potential for perspective. If I could do it again, I would have dug into a few more studies and thumbnails, that's for sure!

Here are some images of the creation process along the way:






Artistic Lessons on the Value of Re-scoping Projects Mid-Production

Over the years, I've gotten a lot better at planning in my life, and this craving to organize has carried over (thankfully) into how I approach my art.

With each piece, I try to spend a fair amount of time in the planning stages before I start work in earnest because I realize it really does pay off later, but I’m reminded on a somewhat regular basis that I still, STILL am not spending enough time in that stage, especially when the scope of a project increases exponentially.

Case-in-point: The “Primal Fury” piece above that was originally supposed to be one figure with no background, and I feel that I spent sufficient time during pre-production on thumbnails and poses and research and the like. This piece, however, has grown to include a total of 6+ figures, a complex background, perspective and more, and along the way I started going “it’s okay, I’ll figure this out as I go along…”

And I've done alright, I’m pretty okay with where the piece has ended up in black and white, and the moment I started in with color overlays… I realized just how very wrong I was. For while the values of the piece worked as a whole, the moment color was tossed in, all that careful planning went right out the window. I worked at the piece for over three hours trying to force it to work before resigning myself to the realization that making the piece work well in color would mean reworking large portions of the piece, and I simply didn't have the time to do that in terms of scope.

So my lesson here is that if I intend to likely bring a piece to color, I really need to make sure that in addition to doing value thumbnails, that I also do COLOR thumbnails too. Not one or the other: BOTH. Live and learn!

The WIP stopping point I reached on my initial attempt to try colorizing the piece to try to match the game’s original in-game colors. It... wasn't going well, particularly that bright gargoyle… :|

(Above) Reference shots of the original Altered Beast game

The lesson here for me was to be aware that if the scope of your piece changes mid-production, you probably would be wise to do some new thumbnails!

On the whole though, I’m still very pleased with how the greyscale piece turned out, and going forward, I vowed to pay more heed to color thumbnails as well.

What lessons have you learned recently pertaining to the value of pre-planning, or what are some trouble-spots you’d like to improve upon?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Video Fun-Time! The Blizzard Arcade

While video projects are the sort of thing I do with any frequency these days, I thought it would be fun to share some of the various types of projects I sometimes get involved in, and the various hats I wear for them!

Blizzard Arcade – Snowflake

Sometimes work and pleasure mix, and Blizzard Entertainment recently announced that their StarCraft II Arcade tools were going free, and I got to tap into my film and TV experience and lend a hand with the announcement video!

I had an absolutely BLAST Art Directing this Blizzard Arcade video and hiding all sorts of awesome Blizzardy things all around the sets I dressed! Also: I jammed on so many props, too! It was a ton of fun, and huge congrats to the teams involved for putting it all together! 

If you watch carefully, you'll even get a few quick glimpses of me as well!

If you’re interested in finding out more about the free Arcade, you can do so here in this StarCraft II blog!

Do you have any side projects you enjoy, but that most people don’t know about? I’d love to hear about them!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

So about Those "New" Short Stories...

BFFs - Completed on May 27, 2011

Of "New" Short Stories

I’ve been finding it all-sorts of intimidating trying to figure out which “new” short story from my original world I’d like to share first. Over the years I’ve written thousands of pages about places, characters, plots and more, and I certainly have a backlog of older short stories and novellas to choose from, but since about this time last year, I’ve been grasping trying to write that “perfect” short story to use in order to introduce readers to my cast of characters and their world.

Since last year, I’ve also started (and then eventually halted) no less than six such “new” short stories, each time insisting to myself that they didn’t encompass enough of what I wanted to say, or in the correct flavor. None of this new batch of short stories were so awful as to be worthy of being tossed away entirely, certainly, but none of them felt quite fitting enough to stand on their own as the first figureheads in a new era of my writing.

Among others, I’d written out two fairy tales from the world, one of which expanded upon a lesser-known culture and their curious history. Others detailed the backstories of side characters from the primary novels, and still others sought to delve deeper into the motivations of characters who were only glimpsed at in passing. While all fine in their own right, none of them really felt like the “right” short story to start out with at this particular juncture.

Then, during my recent trip to Hawaii, a bunch of things suddenly fell into place. While plotting and scheming on some rewrites of the first novel, I realized that the answer to the question I’d been chasing for the last year was staring me in the fact. The whole time I’d been working to dig into new juicy territory (for myself as well!) and I’d been completely ignoring the fact that there shouldn’t be any reason at all for me to avoid some of the characters I knew best, and who had been around in one form or another for well over twenty years.

You see, characters have to “meet” somehow. While all-too-many books fall back on the “they met in a tavern…” trope, two of my characters have long-since been an almost inseparable pairing that, well, that’s just how they are in my head. _I_ know how they met, but I’d never really stopped to sit down and think if that was a story that would really warrant telling because it was so long before the events of the main novel.

But upon closer inspection, it seemed “just” like the sort of short story to get things rolling in both my own mind, and hopefully for new (and returning) readers as well! And, hey? By actually putting it out here in the open reaches of the internet, I’m telling myself that it might also assist me with getting rolling on the second draft in earnest. ;)

"Secrets of an Accord"

Below is the quick note I jotted-down to myself in February regarding the initial “jist” of this new short story, which will introduce readers to two longtime characters who are very near and dear to my heart, and who are from very different walks of life. Did I mention that at first glance, one appears to be a horse?

From there in my story journal, I laid out the basic plot in a few pages, and started to flesh it out. I don’t have a precise ETA on when it will be complete but… there you have it! It will happen, because I said it must be so! And I’ve spent far too many months chasing my tail around in circles, and not NEARLY enough time getting down to business writing!

The piece of art below was created by the immensely talented Emma Lazauski, and I want you dear readers to know how these two characters met, and would later become so inseparable and ever-so-close to my own heart.

Enough well-intentioned procrastination: Let’s get down to writing and do this! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Of Demons and Dragons

It’s been a an incredibly busy last few months, and while at face-value I believed them to be less than productive compared to the productivity standards I hold myself to, in retrospect, I actually accomplished quite a lot on a wide range of fun and compelling projects! Some of these related to my full-time work, and some are personal projects, and I'll be updating this blog over the next few weeks with what I've been up to over the last few months!

‘Season’s Wishes” Original/Unused Illustration

‘Season’s Wishes” Original/Unused Illustration - Digital Painting - Completed on December 22, 2013

First up is the original/unused concept for a holiday piece celebrating Diablo III! I liked the idea of the present, but the Fallen child was a bit older and more bestial in this version. This one is a piece of fan art based on the Fallen Grunt and Fallen Hound from Diablo III. The final/approved piece can be found below and on the holiday blog on the Diablo III website.

‘Season’s Wishes” Final Illustration

This year I had the honored to have one of my illustrations included in the Diablo III holiday blog! "Season's Wishes"

For those of you unfamiliar with the game Diablo, these are younger versions of two types of monsters you encounter in the game. I figured it would be a fun challenge to try to make a sweet moment out of the young Fallen (Grunt) boy receiving a Fallen Hound puppy as a holiday gift.

Lewt, the Papercraft Treasure Goblin


Another fun and festive project that was going on around that same time for work was one that a number of folks, including myself, had a hand in! If I recall correctly, the concept/project was initiated by Stephanie Johnson, and then the actual papercraft was designed by Dana Pull, Matt Worcester, and myself.

I was responsible for doing some final polish work on the goblin figure for printing (who was lovingly illustrated by Dana Pull), and then I also illustrated the bag to match the style of Dana’s goblin. From there I refined the layouts for both the figure and bag, printed and built him, and then had a jolly time photographing him around the Blizzard campus and editing photos for use in our blog and social media postings. It was a really fun project, and it was SUCH a blast seeing so many players create and share their own “Lewts”! If you’re interested in finding out more about it, check out this blog here all about Lewt, the Papercraft Treasure Goblin.

Piranha Bear Sketch

The mighty Piranha Bear. Because a friend requested a visual aid, and I aim to deliver. #IDontEven

I’m fairly certain this silly little sketch started out from conversations on Twitter surrounding what would happen if piranhas and zombie bears (from the Witch Doctor in Diablo III) were merged into one terrifying whole.

I tell you this: the world is not prepared.

Buzzfeed - Proof That You Should Never Give Up On Your Dreams (Featuring Deathwing)

Someone made a Buzzfeed of a story I posted concerning my Deathwing fan art sculpture on my Community Manager Twitter account in late January morning! This made my heart melt, and I really do hope the story inspires other artists and dreamers out there!

Never give up (on your dreams)! Never surrender! My tweets are below:

#StorytimeWithVae - Before #D3, before #SC2 & before #Cataclysm, I started work on a fan art sculpture of Deathwing in my spare time. (1/13)

It was soothing & fun to work on art during my lunch breaks, & a challenge to try to sculpt a character that was only yet a concept. (2/13)

I hadn’t really ever done much sculpture, but I was excited at the prospect of trying to do justice to such a great character design!  (3/13)

Soon after I started, however, someone whose opinion I valued suggested that perhaps I should reconsider working on it at my desk. (4/13)

“It doesn’t look very good…” & “It makes you seem unskilled” were cited as reasons I should work on it away from the view of others. (5/13)

But, true to my gut, I just kept working on it off & on over the course of three months. It grew into something I was proud of! (6/13)

It also exceeded any and all expectations I had of myself & my abilities. And even if it hadn’t: I knew I gave it my all. (7/13)

I spoke with my friend to show them the finished piece, & told them that their previous words had stung a bit, but that it was okay. (8/13)

Because sometimes you’ve just got to follow your dreams & see where they lead you, even if there are naysayers in your way. :) (9/13)

So my wish to all you out there is to give it your all. You’ll never know what you’re capable of until you do! (10/13)

And if you know someone who is putting the heart into something, remember that encouragement & support go a long way! (11/13)

Just like this lump of a dragon: Never give up (on your dreams)! Never surrender! (#Warcraft fan art) (12/13)

And a huge THANK YOU to you guys for supporting me on my own wild-ride of a journey! <3 Here’s to the adventures ahead! (13/13)


Steinir Dragon Sculpture

Total size (including base): 7 x 7 x 12.5 inches.

Sculpture size: 5 x 3 x 7 inches, made with wood, a steel and aluminum core, and sculpted in 1/2 Super Sculpey Firm, 1/4 Super Sculpey, and 1/4 Sculpey III Black with amazonite eyes. Sealed with a satin coating and hand-painted glossy highlights.

I was sad to pack this fella up and ship him off across country, but I was downright thrilled to surprise a dear friend of mine with this handsome gent, and even MORE thrilled he arrived intact!

This is the first of a few photos I intend to upload of Steinir, but he is a dragon of my own creation, and isn't intended to be fan art or based off of any existing dragons out there. As such, sculpting him was actually quite a freeing experience! I really had a blast trying to infuse some personality into him, and it makes me want to sculpt more scaled beasties. :)

Photography by Ivyerimenta

Above is a collage of some of my favorite photos of Steinir. I took a series of photographs for the entire process creating him, which I intend to share at some point as well.

Upcoming Sculpting Walkthrough of Steinir

I'm working on a walkthrough of my Steinir dragon sculpture. You can check out a few of the photos below which document some of the steps along the way of creating Steinir.




I’d love to know what questions you might have for me regarding this particular sculpture, or how I approach sculptures in general, so I can be sure to answer them in my walkthrough! No question is too silly! Have at me!