Monday, October 14, 2013


I recently realized that I have a misguided idea that it's only appropriate for me to blog when I have something big and/or important to say. Well, that's just silly. And since it's pretty much just me and my hubby reading this blog anyways, who's to say I shouldn't post about mundane stuff like what we had for dinner last night.

Just kidding, that might be a little too boring after all...

But...if it were really delicious and I posted the recipe maybe it could be interesting...hmm...

Anyways, I digress. The point is, I'm going to be posting about anything I feel like from now on, not just things that seem "worthy"! So if anyone is actually reading this, look forward to more posts (probably, if I get time to write them) from here on out!

On to the update!

So, things have been pretty crazy lately...thankfully in a good way! The summer and beginning of fall have been largely dedicated to game development around here - both fun "indie" development and less fun but more profitable freelance projects. The Rhythos RPG Builder kickstarter didn't succeed back in May, but David still has plans to move forward with the project and try again at some point. However at the moment he's focusing more on Deity Quest. And I'm doing the writing for it (but not the art)!

Deity Quest is an awesome new game that David designed over the summer.The game is an RPG, with elements from dungeon crawlers and roguelike games. You play as a young new god named Tyrus, who recently graduated (#2 in class) from the Ethereal Academy after 100 years of study...and you have to convert/recruit followers, use them to fight enemies, and compete with your rival, Ryga (who graduated #1 in class). It has some similarities to Pokemon since there are over a hundred different follower types, and you can "convert" enemies to become your followers, level them up, give them new equipment, etc. etc. The game is super fun and addicting, even for us developers, which is a good sign! Also, we are working with some really talented guys on this project: Chase Bethea is doing the music and sound, and Santiago Ocampo has been creating the original artwork.

The writing for Deity Quest has been very enjoyable so far. I'm working from an outline written by David, so I basically get to jump right into my favorite part of writing: details! The game is in eight parts/chapters, and I've finished the first part, and hope to get to at least part 4 within the next few weeks.

While I have been doing some writing for Deity Quest, most of my time lately has gone into "real" work, and Havencall! Havencall has been progressing a little slowly, but definitely moving along at this point. We recently decided to move the release date to March 2014, to give us enough time to make it great. Here's an IndieDB article from a couple days ago with a bunch of new art, info, and updates: . The article features this new background that I finished recently:

I'm becoming increasingly aware of a problem with the length of Havencall's development - the longer I work on this game, the better at art I become, and the worse the earlier scenes start to look in comparison. By the time I finish the game I feel like I'll have become so much better that I'll want to go back and re-do all the earlier stuff...

But I guess if I keep improving that whole cycle would then start all over again!

...In the end though, it's great that I'm becoming a better artist, so I'm not going to complain too much. Here are some more Havencall scenes from the article:

Lately, I feel like I'm developing a much better grasp on the visual direction with this game. Earlier I was mainly focused on just getting the scenes done in a way that worked in the game. Now, I'm constantly asking myself: "how can this scene be as interesting and unique as possible, while still working in the game?" You'd think I would have started off by asking that, but sometimes we don't think of the obvious when we're doing something new and a little out of our element. But at least I got there eventually. And good things are happening with this new perspective - it makes me more flexible and makes the work more fun, too!

I could probably write a lot more about what's going on in my life the past few months, but for now I'll leave it here and save other things for other posts.

Except for kitties. They belong in every post. : 3

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rhythos RPG Builder Launched!

Yesterday, we launched our first Kickstarter campaign! Rhythos RPG Builder will be a free, open source game builder that will feature the awesome art, music and battle system of Rhythos Arcade BETA, David's April "One Game a Month"! It will also have a lot of other cool features and be really easy to use and flexible.

My involvement with the project has been fairly small since it mainly requires programming work, which I am useless at. However, I did have a really good time designing the Rhythos magician mascot and logo!

My initial sketch/idea:

I knew I wanted an action-filled pose that would be exciting, as well as an open book to indicate the "open source" nature of the project. We also wanted to somehow show the rhythm/music side of the project since Rhythos Arcade is a music-based battle system. Since we knew the character was a magician, we thought a staff would fit, and decided to do a subtle visual pun by making her staff into a "treble staff" :P

Here's the final character:
A close-up because that image is huge:
Aaand, the full logo:
I was fairly pleased with how this came out, although the character's right foot (the one on the ground) continues to boggle me and look weird, despite many re-dos and fixes. However, I am glad I was able to get a more motion-filled pose happening with decent success, since I'm usually drawing more static characters.

Here's another image I put together for the campaign - it's a collection of sprites from the LPC graphics the Rhythos editor uses. I modified one to create the cute little pixel mascot in the front! ^_^

So, please check out the Kickstarter if you have a minute, and share/like/back it if it looks interesting to you!! I really hope this project will be a success - I think it will be an amazing, super accessible tool for the game development community, allowing even a non-programmer (like me!) to create complete games! And that's pretty darn exciting!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Trip Through Time" Released!

Trip Through Time, our March "One Game a Month" game has finally been released!!! Please check it out on Newgrounds:
Trip Through Time is a runner game where you play as a time traveling robot and run through 7 eras of human history, in order to determine the true nature of humanity. To avoid paradoxes, you must phase shift through all obstacles you encounter - including historical figures and iconic objects.

The game was completed at the end of March, but during April we were considering several different release options, and so delayed releasing it publicly until now, when those options fell through/didn't make sense anymore.
I created 100% of the art and animations for TTT, going with a style that is somewhere between my "natural" semi-realistic style (as in Havencall), and a simpler/messier speed sketch style. The game required a lot of art and animations, so March was a constant guessing game for me. Several questions kept running through my head over and over: mainly: "Can I do this?" and also: "Am I going to make the deadline???" and often: "What do I need to do first? What is most important?" The whole month was a pretty intense crunch for me, as I'm naturally a fairly slow artist with perfectionist tendencies.
Happily, I was able to ignore my perfectionist side while making this game, because I knew it had to be done by the end of the month, and I wasn't going to make it if I worried over every little thing. I just needed to get it done! And I did! I finished the art with just a few days to spare in the month for final tweaks and testing!

Trip Through Time was the first game I completed using our animation toolkit, VIDE! Havencall uses VIDE as well, so I'm really glad I got the chance to get a lot of practice with it while making TTT. I really enjoyed learning to use VIDE better, and while I still have much to learn about animation (I've just started trying my hand at animations this year!), I feel I've come a long way already.

One interesting tidbit: TTT originated from a Twitter conversation in which @indiepetey challenged @DavidMaletz to make a game based solely upon a song he (Petey) wrote! David accepted the challenge, and when Pete sent him the music, he immediately felt as though it sounded like a trip through time, starting off slow and primitive and becoming more technological and crazier. Thus, the idea for the game was born!
Final fun fact: I am horrible at runner games, and couldn't believe we were making one at first! However, I warmed up to the idea when David explained the movement through time side of things, which sounded like great fun for me as an artist! I mean, I got to draw robots, medieval knights, Darwin, Einstein, hippies, and futuristic soldiers with laser guns, all for the same game. It was pretty amazing!

Please check out the game and rate/review! We want to know what you think! ^_^

Friday, April 26, 2013

Havencall Update, Long Post(s) in the works...

First of all, check out the latest Havencall development update on IndieDB, which has a lot of art and animations and a new music track!
A few things from the article:
New Scene

 photo wip1_zpsbee5ef04.gif
In other has been a WHILE since I updated my blog! But interestingly, that is not for lack of writing posts...the posts just haven't been published! Why in the world would I do that, you ask? Well, here's what happened:

The other day, I was struck with a great idea for a blog post: all of the things that have been on my mind suddenly coagulated (woah, weird word) into a brilliant guide/personal reference about staying motivated. Yeah, really original, I know. But this post was going to be different! It was going to have lots of nitty-gritty details and get really cognitive, and be really personal and of course, super awesome!

So I started writing the post. And then I realized I needed to write an outline and some notes so I didn't forget all the ideas I'd had. And then I wrote for quite a while, and somehow, the simple topic of "staying motivated" morphed into the massive subject of "staying motivated, productive and balanced in work and life" And somehow it had developed into several large, distinct sections. Before I knew it, I was starting to feel like I could write a full book. Or at least, more than one little blog post.

So that's what I've decided to do! I will do a series of blog posts about, basically, how to be awesome! :P Or at least, what helps me stay motivated, productive and balanced (mentally & physically), and stuff like that. Look forward to it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Daily Speed Sketches - Try It!

Hey Folks!

I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about daily speed sketching, a great habit that has seriously been helping me improve my art speed and skill over the past month. For those of you who aren’t aware, I work with an independent game studio making 2d art and animations for games. For many years I've been trying hard to constantly improve my digital drawing and painting abilities. I’ve had several roadblocks standing in my way however, largest of which is a very loud internal critic, my “perfectionist” side that is never satisfied and can cause very slow progress and loss of motivation.
A few 5-minute color sketches from yesterday.
In the last years I’ve made a little headway in quieting the perfectionist in me, but I have not found anything that has been nearly as helpful and inspirational as doing daily speed sketches over the past month. I take a few minutes every single day, no matter how tired I am, no matter how much I have already drawn for work that day, etc. etc. to do some speed sketches. Here are a few reasons why making this daily commitment is so great and why I would encourage any artist, beginner or advanced, to try it too:

1. Timing my sketches helps me get in the habit of using the proper progression from big blocks -> smaller blocks -> details. I can't get stuck on one area because I know the clock is ticking and if I don’t move on I won’t get the whole thing down on the [digital] page in time.

2. Timing sketches forces me to turn off my inner critic, and just draw without thinking about stupid stuff like "how does this look?" "is this terrible?" "should I be doing this totally differently?" I only get to think about that stuff once the drawings are done. After all my speed sketching is done for the day I do some healthy self-critique, only aimed at doing better the next day and not beating myself up over what I just did.

3. Drawing or painting a broad range of different subjects from many different angles every day helps me keep my eyes fresh and inspires the other artwork I am doing.

4. Speed sketching helps me get really good mark making, motion and fluidity into my work. It's great to do before more serious work to warm up and get going, or after serious work to loosen up and relax.

5. Doing a few minutes of speed sketching every day is a realistic and easy way to make sure I am constantly working on improving my artistic abilities. Doing longer pieces for practice is also great and necessary, but with speed sketches I can quickly do many iterations of a subject and see tangible progress even within a few minutes...which leads me to...

6. It's rewarding! It lets me see real progress in a short period of time, which is incredibly motivational.
A 5-minute seascape
All that said, here are a few online speed sketching tools that I use: , (caution, there are some nude models in there). I’ll also sometimes sketch from life if I have a good subject nearby. And there is always google image search if I have a specific thing I feel like drawing.
A compilation of various 30-second line sketches from various days.
Here's where I post my daily speed sketches: (linked to this blog as the “Sketches” page in the navigation above). Please check them out – I’d love to hear suggestions for what techniques I should focus on, what subjects I should sketch, and whether or not you are seeing the improvement that I am!

Hopefully this will inspire some artists out there as it has inspired me! Happy speed sketching! ^_^

Monday, February 11, 2013

Process Journal: Ruins Interior

I recently finished several mini-scenes for Havencall. Here I'll go through the steps I took to create this one:
I used a a wacom tablet and photoshop. Interesting tidbit: I painted this scene 100% with the same photoshop brush: a "chalk" brush that is in the default brushes set, with opacity jitter set to pen pressure in the "transfer" options.

1. Set up
I've put down some messy lines just to figure out what kind of scene I am going for. The perspective is all off, but I'm not worrying about that at this stage (perhaps I should be?). I'm just getting down the general idea.

2. Blocking In
Now I've taken a big, soft-ish brush and slapped down a couple colors on a new layer, one for the basic shape, and another to define where the light is coming from in the scene (mainly from above here).

3. Background
I slapped down a quick background in a layer below the walls.

4. Defining
At this point I'm defining the shapes of things without the original lines. Here's where a lot of the perspective issues are getting fixed (hopefully).

5. Adding
Adding more stuff to the scene! Keeping the direction of the light source in mind and staying loose and relaxed.

6. Variation
Adding texture, cracks, and more colors to increase the realism.

7. Details-Pass 1
More texture, more colors, more cracks...

8. Details-Pass 2
Here I've continued adding details, such as patches of moss here and there. I've also defined the puddles better, added a piece of foreground rubble, and added a big light shaft streaming in through the broken roof. I also have Aura in there to double check that the scaling and colors work together. It's pretty much done at this point!

9. Final Adjustments
All I've done here is fiddle with the levels, exposure, etc. a bit to make it a little more dramatic. And it's done! Here are some close-ups of the finished scene:

And that's it!


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Latest Creative Endeavors!

It's the last day of January, and the past month+ has been filled with my favorite sort of things: creative endeavors! So what have I been up to that's made my last blog post already 6 weeks old?! Here's a round-up!

~ Havencall ~
Of course, I've been working mainly on my biggest and most exciting project, our point and click adventure game! Since my last post I've finished a new background - Aura's bedroom (aka the attic), have made progress with the third battle scene, the design of the third "boss," some NPC designs, and some animations. I've also been working on the story, fleshing out scenes and dialogue in the second world mainly. It's all very exciting and awesome and I can't wait to share it, but we don't want to share too much or the game will get spoiled! But, I think I can share some in-progress stuff without spoiling too much! Here's some NPC line-work that I posted in my recent IndieDB update:
And here are some speed thumbnail sketches I made while brainstorming for "boss" designs. Keep in mind that these are super rough!! But I thought it might be cool to share what goes into the very early stages of designs...
None of these thumbnails are terribly close to the final design I settled on, but there are a few that were strongly inspirational. Which thumb would you liked to have seen developed?

Also speaking of Havencall, we decided to be a little more responsible to our fans, and update the Havencall facebook page at least once a week! So Monday is now our update day! This not only will keep our followers interested and entertained, but it should also help keep me productive, because I'll want to make sure I have plenty to write about every week!

~ Secret Simulation Project ~
A good chunk of my time lately has gone into this "real work" project. Happily, even my "real" work is creative! Sadly, I cannot talk about this project very much aside from saying it's a simulation and it's pretty cool! Although, it is always difficult doing "real work" when I have so much Havencall stuff waiting to be made...

~ The Saga of the Epic Mayan Pyramid Cake ~
As I mentioned in this post, last month I was requested to create a cake that looked like a Mayan Temple, for an "end of the world" party. Here are some pictures of this epic process:
 The vanilla cake batter was delicious. Waaaay too delicious.
This cake basically contained butter. lots and lots of butter.
 All layers baked!
Frosted! It was half chocolate, half cinnamon frosting.
Demolished. And that's the end of the saga of the epic Mayan cake (except we had leftovers for a long time after!). And now I feel like eating cake.

~ Kitty Beds ~
Recently I decided that this:
was simply not cutting it for a cat bed. I'd made it very quickly many months ago. The time was right for *real* cat beds to be made for my two [superspoiled] cutie pies. Here are some pics documenting the process of making the new beds!
 I used an old blanket for the stuffing. The middle was cut into rectangles, and the batting from the edges was removed and rolled into long cylinders. The grey fabric is fleece left over from another project.
 These edge pieces were long!
Rollin' em up like a cinnamon roll!
 Dinah oversees as I cut out the side pieces from the fabric.
 Stuffing the edge pieces was somewhat amusing.
 Me being a goof and wearing an edge piece. It's a fashion statement, ok?!
 1st one done!
 Phoebe using the 1st bed. It was a little small for her. Oh, and that's David's January One Game A Month, "I Can't Escape" in the background!
 This is Phoebe in the second bed I made. It has a black middle part, and is definitely a better size for her!
 And here's Dinah in the first bed. Perfect size for her! Now both my kitties have a super soft and comfy spot to curl up. =^_^=

~ Backstage Graphic Design ~
My sister [in-law technically] Jamie writes incredible musicals, and recently she was offered a venue and is doing a production of one of her shows down in Phoenix! I did a little graphic design for the show: a poster and logo for t-shirts. It was a fun process figuring out what to do with the design. In the end I settled on this design for the poster:
And this is the 3-color logo for the t-shirts:
 Backstage is a super fun musical with awesome music and a great story. If you're in the Phoenix area March 14th, 15th, or 16th, you can check it out at the Desert Rose Theater, and tickets are here.

~ Speed Sketches ~
A few weeks ago I decided to do a little bit of speed sketching every single day in order to improve my drawing speed and perceptiveness. I've been posting them every day in my sketches micro-blog (linked to this blog as the "Sketches" page, above). It's been going pretty well (no missed days yet), and I think it is actually helping me improve! Here are a couple of pages from random days (these are all 30 second sketches):

And now, it's time for me to get back to work!