Thursday, September 27, 2012


A silhouette-driven assignment for a character design class. Dallben is some old enchanter from a book series called "The Chronicles of Prydain." I'm pretty sure he's not even close to as interesting-looking in the book as I made him though.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Pigs (part 4)

 Continued from part 3...

The next couple of images were all meant to be artwork used for the game's website, but Giraffon was able to get some free artwork from another artist so they used his instead... even though I had already made mine and they had already paid me to do it. Anyway, the idea was to make a simple image that would showcase each pig as it beat up birds.

Apart from the introductory little images, I also made some rendered digital paintings to showcase the pigs and birds in more realistic settings. I had these in mind for the website at first, but instead they were put in-game to be used in the menu system for level selection - all except for the one with the cannon. That was supposed to be for the main title/logo screen but got dropped when we had to change the villains to wolves. The first one I did was the cowboy one and it was actually a big deal for me - I had never painted anything like it in Photoshop before and it surprised me how well it turned out.

The wolf one above was the last thing I did for Giraffon up until this point. I finished it in May and since then, I've technically still been their employee, but they haven't had any work for me to do. Pig Avengers has had thousands of downloads, but only for the free version. Hardly anyone has bought the $1 version. Giraffon has talked about plans for expansions and new levels and more villains, but they have their hands full making money with other companies' apps, so it doesn't look like there will be any development on Pig Avengers for a while.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Pigs (part 3)

Continued from part 2...

When the idea for the game first started as a parody of Angry Birds, we obviously deemed birds as the villains of the game. In my earlier sketches, I wanted the birds to be stupid, idiot creatures, but the head of the game wanted more a more sinister feel to them - that they were aware that they were evil, and would therefore be more appealing to defeat. You can see in the sketches below, the first couple of birds all look pretty dumb... and then they all start to look really pissed off. After sketching out just basic everyday neighborhood birds, I started going with all different types of birds - owls, eagles, chickens, woodpeckers, pelicans, penguins - just to get a good variety in there.

The first bird I took to a more polished state was this one. Later on, we had to take him out of the game because we didn't want to encroach on copyright issues with Rovio once the game became less of a parody.

The next couple of birds were all created to give the game variety. Each bird has several different facial expression states that it uses throughout game use, including smiling, laughing, being scared, being injured, and blinking doubles of each of those expressions. This was one of my favorite parts of the design process - coming up with all the different types of characters and then figuring out what each of them looked like with different emotions.

The favorite bird of the team was by far the Cuckoo bird. We wanted a villain mascot for the jungle levels that stood out and seemed crazier than the rest of the birds.

One of the references that really helped me was Kevin from Pixar's "Up," especially when it came to picking out its colors.

After a year of development and work, the game was submitted to and rejected from the Apple store, mostly due to copyright problems with Angry Birds and their massive hold in the Apple Store economy. The gameplay underwent some interesting changes and instead of being a game about merely killing off all of the enemies, it became about freeing fellow pigs through more of a puzzle-strategy process, instead of a blast-and-smash approach. One of the major changes we had to make was to change the villain and, after a lengthy rest from working at Giraffon, I came back for a few months to start working on the new antagonist. One of the first ideas that I pitched was to make the bad guy a wolf because it makes total sense when you connect it to the 3 Little Pigs, but some of the other ideas that I pitched were little imps, devils, and robots. We decided to go with the wolves.

Wolves would be a completely different approach than the birds. The birds were all round-ish and didn't move around much. They had no limbs or joints and the only thing that changed on them was their facial expression, making their animation much easier. Now we had a wolf - with four legs, an elongated body, and a head that could swivel around on its neck. I worked with the programmer to find out the easiest way that we could bring the character to life and make him move without having to animate frame-by-frame images (which, apart from being more work, would take up more memory in the game).

Another idea that I came up with that didn't make it in the game was to have boss battles - you would have a giant version of one of the birds (or wolf) who would move around and had a weak spot somewhere on their body. You would have to have good timing and aim to be able to hit just the right spot, but you would get to destroy a huge enemy every once in a while instead of constantly strategizing through the levels. Wouldn't that be cool? I thought so.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Pigs (part 2)

Continued from part 1...

The first pig to design was the standard normal pig. No special abilities, nothing extreme, just toss and move on. We figured pink was a good color and gave him a mean scowl.
 The Bomb Pig was next and pretty self explanatory - it has a blast radius and weighs a bit more than the normal pig, making it useful for getting through heavy resistance. I designed it to look like a bomb. That's pretty much it.

The drill pig was a character that had been thought of very early on and is unique to the game. The idea was to make a pig that you could shoot straight into the ground and he would travel through it just as any other pig would fly through the air. Gave him brown skin to give the appearance of mud and everyone seemed to like the drill hat idea.

The ghost pig was one of the favorite ideas on the team - a pig that would be transparent until you tapped on the screen to make him solid, essentially used to get past unbreakable barriers. The design for this one was fun, but a little complicated. I had the idea to give him little ears that would slowly wiggle back and forth in a ghost-tail kind of way, while also making the whole bottom part of his body also wiggle. The programmer and I worked out a way to put those sections of his body on separate layers that could be animated while attached to the whole image, all while his body would slowly float up and down.

The jetpack pig went through more revisions than any prior character, and at one point we debated dropping him altogether, though I'm glad we kept him because he's definitely the most fun pig out of all of them. The jetpack pig's power is that you can constantly and infinitely change his direction in midair just by tapping on a different spot on the screen. He'll keep flying around wherever you tell him to until he makes contact with an object and then his jetpack blows up and he falls to the ground like any other pig. He's also got a spunkier personality and his facial expression changes alot more drastically than any other pig.

The next pig was the most debated character in the game. We wanted a pig that you could tap to give a speed boost and hit something harder (much like the yellow bird in Angry Birds). The question became, what force does he use to propel himself? The yellow bird in A.B. doesn't have a reason to go faster when you tap him, he just does. Why would our pig go faster? I drew up all sorts of sketches - pigs getting struck by lightning, pigs farting, pigs with propellers on their backs - I tried to justify the propeller with either a metal body, or dress him up like a coal miner... for some reason... Neither design stuck for very long.

For a while, we thought about having a pig that would pull out a hang-glider, but logically, that wouldn't make something go faster, just farther. We even thought about switching roles with the jetpack pig and giving him just a 1-time extra boost and making the hang-glider the multi-directional character. Eventually, the design I came up with was sort of a happy accident. I had started doing full-screen, realistic illustrations for the game and in one of them, I had drawn a pig with a cowboy hat in a kind of western duel setting with a bird.

Weeks after I had made that drawing, we suddenly realized that we could use that cowboy design to give the appearance of a pig who would have a gunshot-reaction when tapped to propel himself forward. Thus, the cowboy pig was created for in-game use.

And that's the story on the design of the pigs.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Pigs (part 1)

Back in February 2011 I was hired at Giraffon as an illustrator and concept designer for their game Pig’s Revenge, which was supposed to be a sort of parody/clone of Angry Birds. My first assignment was to come up with the designs for the characters. Initially, I just grabbed a handful of computer paper and started Google image-searching cartoon pigs to look for different styles. Whenever I would find one that seemed to stand out, I would try to imitate that style in creating a limb-less cartoon pig head, although a few of the early designs even had little legs sticking out. 

From all the sketches, this one stood out:

And from there it turned into:

Alot of the influence came from some of my favorite illustrators Mike Krahulik and Ben Caldwell
Once I found a look that appealed to me, I showed it to my boss and started churning out all sorts of pigs. Soldier pigs, general pigs, lady pigs, ninja pigs - by this point in development, we had only begun to think of possible ways we could improve on Angry Birds gameplay and turn it into a more exciting experience.

The only designs from this batch that made it into the game were the drill pig (who you shoot underground to pop up behind obstacles), the bomb pig, and the jetpack pig (who you can tap multiple times in the air to change precise direction.
At one point in development, we had considered a more concrete story line with a military tone to it. I had the idea that there would be a pig general that would give you instructions every now and then. I really wanted him to be animated, with his mustache bouncing up and down when he talked and pointing around with his fancy stick thing. Unfortunately, it didn't cut it.

I also was tasked with coming up with a way to shoot the pigs. We couldn't use the slingshot, so I thought of putting a cannon in there, though the cannon had to look different from all the other imitator games out there. We didn't want to have a stupid bar show up where you had to time the power and angle just right to make your shot - we wanted something quick and easy where you could pull back and release. After several designs, the one we liked best was based on the Toy Story 3D shooter game in Disneyland where you have a pull string attached to a ball behind the cannon. The ball would be pulled and the longer the pull, the more power the shot would have.

Above was the first pass on the cannon design. Below is how the cannon looks now (that particular background is not part of the game, I just drew it in there quick to give context).

Continued in part 2...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Star Wars Ponies

 For a sketching assignment we had the theme of Star Wars Ponies. These are a few of the pages I did.

Monday, September 3, 2012


This was a sketch I did a couple years ago... 2010 I think. I meant to upload it a long time back and its never seen the light of the public eye.