Friday, October 30, 2009

Crimson Skies: 26 planes



Before it became a popular XBox game, Crimson Skies was originally a PC game conceived and produced by FASA Interactive.
FASA was a Chicago-based game company headed by a fine fellow named Jordan Weisman, that created and produced role-playing and PC software games. I was brought in as a conceptual artist on this, as well as some later projects that would ultimately be produced for XBox and Playstation.

Crimson Skies was one of the first projects on which I worked. The developers there were putting together an 'Aircraft Manual' for the PC game, which would contain the basic rules of game play, but also technical descriptions and illustrations of all the different models of planes used in the game. Given the game's premise, scenario, and time period, these planes defied conventional design for a more 'steroid injected' look. These were aggressive dog-fighters.
I was given the copy pages describing each plane, then I was given free reign in designing them.
They would need orthographic views of each plane drawn for one page, and a 3/4 view action shot of the same plane for the other.

The view drawings were done using fine felt-tip pen, and the dramatic action shots were rendered using gray-toned Pantone markers.
With some minor back-and-forth feedback, all 26 planes took about 4 weeks to design and render for delivery.

Here are 12 of the 26 planes found in the published manual;

 


 


 


 


 







































 








































































The people at FASA were a joy to work with. Focused, creative. and fun. Over a period of 2 years I had the opportunity to generate characters, wardrobe and accessories, vehicles, storyboard cinematic sequences, visualize landscapes, cityscapes, exotic structures and their interiors. Much of this conceptual work either helped define the overall look of a game, or was used directly in constructing them digitally in the actual program.
By the time I finished working on my third project with them, Jordan had offered me a permanent position there as staff artist. It was tempting, and while I was considering it they got a lucrative offer from Microsoft. My offer still held, but Bill Gates ended up moving FASA's offices, and most of its staff, to Seattle upon acquisition.

Friday, January 16, 2009

More virtual oils

Another study in Corel Painter, done back in the late 90s.
This montage was inspired by the 1931 horror film, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Out of the many interpretations of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson story, this one is the best and easily my favorite. And of all the gothic horror films that permeated the cinemas in the 1930s, this one seems largely overlooked. This is possibly because Universal had cornered the gothic horror market with Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Wolfman, and this gem came out of Paramount Studios.
But it's definitely worth a watch. It's the creepiest. Parts of it were censored by the Hayes Committee, mostly for sexual suggestion, but it's also a pretty violent film for the time. And Fredric March gave such a great performance he actually won an Oscar that year for best actor.