Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Building worlds and opportunities

First off a warning, this post will most likely ramble on a while. It's mostly for my own records, but some of you might have the patience to get through it all! So I've been quiet (and missed posting in March) mostly because I'm in the process of a life move to a new place and new job in the west of the UK, in Warwick. I'm stepping out of the large corporate world of Jagex and into the nimbler market of mobile gaming. I think it'll be fun! A chance to stretch those long unused organic concept muscles and should give me back that feeling of being intrinsic to the production of a game rather than being a cog in a machine. Pay's better too, which is always nice. I've also had confirmation that I'm through to the final consideration for the Udon Warcraft Tribute Book and currently have 2 pieces through to final choice for Expose 11 too.

So the job thing came about quite by accident and happened pretty quickly -  within the space of a couple of days I'd applied to two companies and had a job offer within the week. When you're not really expecting much to come of something, it certainly messes with your head when you have to change your life on the answer to a 'do you want the position' question. But I think I made the right choice, I think I'm actually going to rather enjoy the faster turn around  of mobile games, but having more time to iterate and explore. I'd also applied to a larger AAA studio, but my 'folio wasn't really suited to their genre and it's got me thinking.

My work isn't bad. But it's a little fickle when it comes to pinning down what it is I do and what it is I'm good at. I took the portfolio building quiz over at the Art Order site, but it's hard to pin my goals down to just one company or one style. Ultimately when I try to just base work on 'getting a job' or fulfilling some other checklist, it never seems as appealing and I lose interest. But I do recognise that there is a fundamental lack of style or subject consistency that makes it hard to link any of my pieces to each other, even when the subject matter is similar.

I'd also put the following piece in for crit with the Oatley Academy's live session (have I mentioned I love the Oatley Academy?). It was supposed to be a trading card image aimed at the warcraft end of the style market, but Chris pointed out a couple of anatomy flaws and noted that the painting style might have been less engaging than the previous pieces he'd seen. He also pointed out the image didn't seem to have an artistic direction. Sure it was nicely rendered and dynamic and the character was kooky and interesting, but who was she and why was she there, why was she doing what she was doing, and why that mood? And in all honesty I couldn't answer. I'd just wanted to paint boobs, dynamic angles and my pirate character in a format that suited cards and had a nice composition. It wasn't anything deeper than that, and that's fine, it still makes an interesting image. But it's not engaging beyond just looking and saying, hey cool pose and colours! Art direction was what it needed. Not just the image, but the character. She was nothing more than a set of boobs and red curly hair in a costume shop pirate outfit who had the nifty ability to control the waters she sailed on.

What if I gave her history? What if she had a culture? A reason she was so foul mouthed and loved getting drunk? So I did a little more research and after a couple of days I was itching to get at the blank canvas. Below is the initial result and another quick stylistic exploration.  No means final, I may very well redesign this or any other iteration of her, but it's a step in the right direction. This is what I want my portfolio to be... interesting characters and worlds that are relevant in a style that's not hyper real, but allows for a little stylisation.


I used to write when I was younger and could stomach being awake on 4 hours sleep. A lot. I have an 800 page novel lurking in the background for when I can rest on my artistic laurels a little. I love building worlds and characters and finding interesting ways of connecting them. So I got to thinking about Eidy and her little village and it's traditions and culture. And then I got to thinking about Kana. Those of you who've followed my work for a while know I dabble with the dragon prince character artistically every now and again, but my goal with him is a larger project. I'd like to eventually do a novel/artbook combo maybe through kickstarter, since I love the idea of being able to show the characters and places off in a book the way the author sees them. It's not something many people can do (Janny Wurts being one of the few I can think of).

So I'm developing Kana's world more now. I'm trying to collect reference and document my ideas in a logical fashion (which for someone who never planned *anything* when she wrote, is an interesting proposition) with the idea of bringing in my Audacious Accomplishment characters too. They'll still be Clarice Starling and Lecter, after a fashion, but I want to give them my own twist. I'd been struggling with the characters because the designs just didn't have anything to them other than cool outfits and interesting faces or demon horn designs. Now they have a place in a larger world and I'm ditching the stereotypical demon designs I wanted to do for Lecter and am embracing something that's my own creation.

So what does this all mean? It means I have a common goal now between a number of artistic projects, that I can bring them all into the same book. Which gives me motivation to work in a style that suits me and more importantly will give my Portfolio consistency. And if people other than me like it? Who knows where it might go! Watch this space. And prod me with pointy things if I slack. :)


  1. Boy, do I feel your pain, Sam. Identifying what I do and do well is a tough assessment for me, too. (All I know is that I don't throw down 'cute' well.)

    Re. working on your own IP? My best advice is GET IT OUT THERE. Even now. You're gonna need to build a fan base before Kickstarter. Tease us with the world, the characters! You might need to work that dayjob just to pay the bills, and then grow that personal project on the side until it picks up real steam.

    I'm not gonna be Brom or Lockwood or my own 'brand', I suspect. I'm just not that original or driven. I'm not a natural eccentric. I'm ... solid. And that has a place too!

    Good luck with the consistency; I think you'll end up ROCKING IT! (And frankly, I can tell a Sam Hogg piece right off, so I think you're consistent!)

    1. Thanks Cris! And I suspect if you ever do find that drive you'll give us all a run for our money, since your works were recognisable in my inbox too. Good to know there's something in my work that's me, despite my style and subject ADD.

  2. I'm so excited that you want to share your world with us in a more complete form. I know you can do it and do it well. and good luck on the move and job. hope you really enjoy both.

    1. Hey stranger! Was wondering if this would peek your interest. Eidy's got my art muse at the moment, but Kana's smouldering away at her heels, so I suspect more works with him will soon start popping up! And thank you! Hope all is good on your end too m'dear.