Forum Name:

Character Name: Grudge Wapner

Email: [email protected]


Favorite Software: Photoshop, 3dsmax, Zbrush, Mudbox

Favorite Games: Oddworld series, including Stranger, God of War I&II, Undying, Doom, Heretic, Legacy of Kain series, including the often overlooked Blood Omen, Gears of War, if for visual fidelity alone, The Bard's Tale, World of Warcraft

Favorite movies: Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Braveheart, Blade Runner, The Matrix (just the first one - the rest are dead to me), Aliens, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Bicentennial Man.

Favorite music: Disturbed, Avenged 7x, Evanescence, Breaking Benjamin, Rob Z, Amethystium, Enigma, The Cranberries, early U2, Def Leppard, teh OzzMan, Tonic, Hendrix, Satriani, Eric Johnson, George Winston, lots of Celtic and Medieval stuff that people wouldn't care about. I listen to a lot of really crappy and uncultured music, basically.

Good habits: I feel like a have a good work ethic. And I bathe daily, religiously. I shake 3 times.

Bad habits: Chewing pen caps and other plasticy things as a nervous habit. I type horribly, and can't seem to tell the difference between a semicolon and apostrophe. Its my IM superpower. I also am a ridiculously horrible file manager. My desktop looks like a land mine went off in my harddrive.

Future Goals: To be better. That is really all I can hope for. My entire life has revolved around art. It is a river that has run through the smack center my life as long as I can recall. I feel that as many hours as I have put into this "working pastime" I should be way better than I am. If tomorrow I am better than I am today, I can survive till the day after tomorrow. It sounds a bit cheesy, but art is in many ways my religion, I think. Creating things keeps me out of a straight jacket.

Inspirations: Frank Frazetta, first and foremost. Then Brian Froud, Brom, Simon Bisley, John Mueller, Travis Charest, Jim Fitzpatrick and a host of traditional sculptors that I am really just now starting to explore and appreciate.

Thank you(s): My longsuffering better half, Christy. She's been patient not only through Dominance War 2, but many years riding, by my side, the rollercoaster that is game development. My folks, who nurtured my creativity from an early age, never forcing my hand to follow any career path that was at odds with my need to "make." Monster Energy (where the hell is my endorsement?)

How do you bounce back from a bad day? Usually a good kiss from my girl and kicking back on the sofa to watch a familiar movie, lighting some candles, burning some incense, taking out some rage on the guitar. For me, creation is my biggest form of catharsis.

What’s a good day? Finding a sweet Max script, getting some solid headway on a model or concept, a really good meal at a really good Thai restaurant.

Construction Shots of Grudge Wapner
Let's start at the beginning, how did you become an artist and why?
I think a few things paved my path. My mom sat me down in church from an early age and I occupied myself with a spiral notepad and crayons. I filled spiral after spiral with pictures of ghosts and bats pouring out of haunted castles, and vampires. At that age (3? 4? 5?) I have no idea where the rather macabre images were coming from, in retrospect. I really wonder now if my parents weren't concerned. At any rate, I spent a lot of time in front of Scooby, Battle of the Planets, Harryhausen and Hammer Horror films, and the black and white animated Hercules series as a tike. These were really my formative years, and I expect a lot of that still comes through. As I grew up I continued to draw and take inspiration from album and book covers- notably fantasy artists like Frazetta, but I really lacked proper training. I grew up in Mesquite, TX, and while that was definitely influential (in a round about way for sure) in my eventually entering the game development industry, the public schools offered little to nurture and forge an artist from the technical standpoint. As a result, most everything I know about art, and creating it, has been self taught.
I was going to community college fresh out of High School, working towards a traditional illustration/design associates degree when a friend of mine started playing Doom at a LAN setup in a little computer store not far from id's offices. I had little to no computer knowledge at that point, but he convinced me to buy a crappy used PC and start pushing pixels. It was a little IBM that barely ran Doom and Heretic, but with it I was able to create the pixel art that got me my first job, at Raven. I lived 5 miles from id, and traveled 1000 miles in a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle with all I owned (in January no less) to work at Raven. Such is life.

That is how.

Why? I had no other choice.

- Click here to view this image -

During the war, did you ever have any doubts on your design? Were there any compromises or revisions?
I did go through some doubts. As the war went on, it became more and more apparent that design would play a massive role in deciding the victor. I mean, as I went through the forums, the quality of execution on many was phenomenal. Once you reach a certain level of quality, then it is the design that is make or break, and not the extra hour or day you put into the scratches on the spec map. I went with the first idea I had. I didn't mill about. For me, the best thing I could do is not procrastinate. I was more intent on actually finishing my entry than I was winning. I tend to lose focus and interest quickly. The WIP thread was probably the only reason I was able to complete him. I made little in the way of design changes throughout the course. My concept doesn't really convey the spirit of my final character as much as the image I had in my head. It is simply due to the fact that my concept art looks more like Chiodo's work than Brom's. And not to slight Chiodo, but I hate that.
One area where I do feel I succeeded was in the embodiment of vengeance. I really took the theme seriously, and wanted to portray something that really gave form to the rather intangible concept of vengeance. In my opinion, there were a lot of entries in the forum teams that could easily cross to the next, and I definitely wanted (and perhaps expected of others) a more literal take on the brief.

Multiple angles of Grudge Wapner
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?
Most of the time I don't concept for myself. I concept for others as a means of transferring internal images. 3d modeling is a very malleable process. There is very little you can do (at least in the geometry stage) that can't be quickly undone or rethought. Thumbnails to isolate problematic areas are nice, and to determine where global shapes are, but I think I, like many others, like to put as much on-the-fly detail into my art as I can get by doing. It depends on my mood though. Some days I just don't "have it" and I would much rather connect the dots from a precise concept than to wing it. I have odd days, but mostly, I make details up as I go.
I really don’t have a consistent workflow. For speed’s sake, it is probably best to have a rigorous methodology, but I find the steps I take are often guided by my own finicky attention span, and vary by the project I am working on. How much sub-d hard surfaces and how much organic deformation sculpting a model requires definitely will affect my approach.
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