This blog...

...was initially for pieces done on a computer, but has since become a free-for-all. Here you'll find process work (digital and otherwise), sketch pages and studies, sometimes with commentary.

You can see the rest of my work here.

Remember kids : if you can't make pretty designs, at least make pretty lines!


Monday, January 25, 2010

lifedrawing log - 01.25.10

I heard the "c" word (cartoony) a few times again tonight. I'm never sure if people are being complimentary or backhanded with that. There's this one old, ZZ Top lookin' dude who shows up with an easel and oil paints, and splats out these faceless torsos at 15 minutes per. Awful color. Proportions are all fucked up. Zero sense of depth. But since he's doing it on canvas, it goes on the wall without anyone questioning it. I'd like to saunter up to these types and say, "I admire your courage for coming out and doing this in public." or better yet "Hey, have you seen? There's a beautiful girl up there on the stage."

I know, I know...judge not lest ye be judged. (Dickweeds.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010


I've pinned a bunch of my concept work from Darksiders. You can see it here. Thanks to everyone at Vigil Games and THQ who gave me clearance to do this.

© THQ Inc., Vigil Games

I had a big, long speech prepared about my personal journey at Vigil and how cool working on Darksiders was, but I think the work (and of course the game) will speak for itself. Here, instead, is a portion where I discuss Joe Mad. I figure fellow fanboys might be interested.


You can't talk about Vigil without touching on its most notable front man, creative director and comic legend Joe Madureira (pronounced "MAD-UH-RARE-UH" -- it's Portuguese). To get an idea of what working with Joe is like, imagine living at the foot of an active volcano that, without warning, spews forth torrents of scorching-hot art. Over the years I've probed Joe for secrets, sometimes offering up small animal sacrifices, and have come away with a few useful tidbits :

1) Erase it until it's right. Joe works in graphite pencil (12 x 2.0 mm HB leads + lead holder + lead sharpener), covering up the more finished portions of his drawings with a sheet to prevent smudging, and is in no way reluctant when it comes to eradicating what he feels isn't working. Chris Lichtner would remark that Joe "carves an image out of a page" like an archaeologist unearthing a relic.
2) Work large and reduce. Unless we're talking about a doodle scribbled on a legal pad with a ballpoint pen, I've seldom seen Joe draw on anything smaller than an 11" x 17" sheet. If he feels confined or his drawing is in any way compromised by the edges of the page, he'll simply tape another sheet onto it, gatefold style, and keep going.
3) Gesture = energy. Joe's loose, swooshy underdrawings are a marvel to behold. Even before he pours on the detail, you can still get a good feel for what's happening. He starts with the big, general shapes and refines. Limbs or even entire bodies begin as whipping, anamorphic wedges. Heads are indicated with ovals. Hands are given their own mini-gestures. Joe will never, ever skimp on a hand, as he believes them to be just as expressive as faces.
4) "Cool over correct." This was actually one of Chris Lichtner's many catch-phrases, but I think it was made in observance of Joe. When a fan of his Battle Chasers comic pointed out a size discrepancy between panels for one of his characters, Joe's reply was (and I'm paraphrasing) "Calibretto's hand is exactly as big it needs to be in a panel in order for it to be awesome." Can I get an amen?
5) Familiarity is your friend. Joe knows that art is communication, and that you can't let the viewer sit there trying to decipher your intentions. The picture has to hit them like a punch to the gut, so they immediately go, "Damn, this guy is a powerful medieval overlord in a fantasy setting, and that axe he's carrying would cut me in half." If a drawing requires an explanation or backstory in order to read, it's a bad drawing.
6) Importance. When a design lacks importance, it can sometimes be attributed to patches bearing no iconic patterns or recognizable features. You see lots of sculpted faces, sigils and etched/tattooed runes in Joe's work because they transform plain surfaces into something with character. What might have been merely functional now stands out as something memorable.
7) "Fuck it up a little." Scarring, wear, fatigue, huge chunks missing -- imperfections add interest and suggest history.
8) "Accomplish more. Do less." I firmly believe Joe doesn't flaunt his abilities until the moment they're needed, and only when it will make the most impact, whether it's a magazine cover illustration, game concept, or a pony drawing for one of his daughters. I tend to run myself ragged, flailing and groping for some fragment of an idea, or just drawing for its own sake until something cool accidentally presents itself. Joe doesn't leave nearly as much to chance. He already knows, within a reasonable degree, what's going to please him and how to go about getting that result, and he's usually comfortable with it. In the time many of us will spend second-guessing a piece, he will complete several, his rationale being "Drawings are like that old Doritos ad : Crunch all you want, we'll make more." Translated by Chris Lichtner, "Nothing is sacred... the coolness isn't contained within the art, but within the artist... and he lives it...doesn't get attached to any of his drawings."

I also saved my very first letter from Chris, who now art directs Diablo III. He was just as instrumental in getting me to Vigil, and has been a good friend and invaluable critic through it all.

Dear Paul --

I've seen your site, and absolutely love your work. Amazing!

I just recently joined VIGIL GAMES to work with Joe Madureira, who used to draw XMEN/Battlechasers (I used to own a company called Liquid!, and have worked on DAXTER PSP before joining Vigil), on a yet unannounced next-gen title, and we're looking for a top notch concept artist.

I don't know what your current work situation is but I would be interested in getting a chance to talk to you, and see if you had any interest in working with us down here in Austin, TX. I'm really excited at the prospect of working on this project, and only want to work with really top notch guys, and we both love your work, so that's pretty much a no-brainer.




Getting this kind of attention, at that time in my life, from these sources, was better than anything I could have hoped or planned for.

Vigil recently finished moving into a brand new office with plenty of room for more passionate developers of all disciplines. I can't wait!

Last night at Barnes & Noble...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Stay on target...

I have some other stuff in the works (ARTracker stuff), but in the meantime here's a sketchpage...

lifedrawing log - 01.10.10