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Forum Name: mr kite
War General: Chief Beef
Specialty: General beefiness
tank commander
Email: email Andy
Website: visit Andy's website
Media Used: Adobe Photoshop
Discreet 3dsmax
Pixologic Zbrush
Let's start at the beginning, how did you become an artist and as you became an artist, did you ever imagine it would be for games?
I'd always enjoyed inventing characters and computer games so it seemed inevitable to get into game art at some point. I first started work as a designer and illustrator in 2000, and amongst the more general work I was doing I found myself creating a lot of animated 2d sprites for mini-games on interactive cds. After that, 3d wasn't far behind and I've since been involved with a couple of mod groups. Last year I had my first experience of making assets for a commercial game and I'm pretty much hooked on game art now.

Construction Shots of Chief Beef
Tell us about the process you undertake to get
the results that you do? How do you come up with
your ideas? Concepts, yes, no?
Thinking about animations, characters from movies and listening to theme music helps a lot to firm up a character design. I usually make a composite image from sources outside of games prior to concepting and I always steal details from real life to speed things up. For example, Beef's unused fusion pistols had tiny barrel sweeps, the idea for which was nicked from flintlocks and muskets, albeit restyled. The mech had lots of functional details snagged from real tanks (smoke launchers, spade for digging it out in wet weather) and so on. Quite often I write down ideas on my sketches, they're usually just excuses that come after the drawing to reinforce the character, or are just grafted on afterwards to elicit a smile. Sometimes they feed back into the drawing and fire off another round of refinements, the process is a bit of a muddle. Mostly the ideas come from the mystical land of Narnia. I generally don't improvise in 3d because I find things go much smoother and faster when the ideas have been worked out in advance in 2d. Plus, if you're still excited by a concept after scratching it out on paper then you'll be able to see the model through to the end.

Tank seen from different angles
During the war, did you ever have any doubts on your design? And were there any compromises or revisions?
Yes, I had lots of false starts and doubts. I wish I'd opted for a more serious design after seeing some of the cool PC and CGchat entries, but generally, I'm happy with how he turned out. There are lots of areas that are weak in the final model and I'll focus on those when I next come to build a normal mapped critter. I've yet to come up with a plausible reason for the talking golf club...

Initial Concepts
To get this entry done must have been no easy feat. Tell us about your working habits? Basically, what's your secret to your apparent success?
Take a days holiday when it comes to rendering out the normal maps! Aside from that - I made a big list of small milestones on a calendar and whenever I hit a block I took a screengrab and overdrew in PS to work out the problems. Then I put the workable profile back into max to speed things up again. When it comes to 2d, I'm fairly fast anyways, but I tend to force texture progress by flattening my psd file every hour. Otherwise, it's too easy to fool around with an un-manageable number of layers, making minute adjustments no-one would ever notice. Posting small, regular updates for feedback on a forum is a good way of maintaining momentum.
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