Learning Dark Arts

Come learn the art of 3D computer generated art and animation. This blog deals with the lessons learned and the art created by Robert G. Male using DazStudio from Daz3D. Also covered are the ancillary software, tools, techniques, and processes needed both before and after rendering in the 3D software.


Spell casting woman.

R.M.T.P. Co.


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January 20, 2007

The Rising Sun God

Sometimes when the memory fails it is a good thing for the Internet. One of the last artists I wanted to talk about stuck in my memory as being one that worked only on interiors. This didnít necessarily make sense though because I know that of his interior works, some of them were colour and converted to greyscale for the books. The conversion has been less than perfect in some cases due to the way these books are printed. This being the case I went looking for the artistís web site to see if he had the colour versions there. Well, not for the ones I had hoped for anyway. Oh, the artistís name? Why, itís the talented new guy on the scene, Apollo Okamura.

Apollo Okamura has done work in The Rifter, which is the way for anyone to start on the road to becoming a freelance anything for Palladium Books. I recall an absolutely wicked picture of a CS Wind Jammer Sky Cycle flying over a trench, the pilot waving to troops on the ground. My favourite has to be an interior he did for Chaos Earth: Creatures of Chaos, the Desecrator World Slayer demon. Okamura did all four World Slayer demons, though I donít know if they are his designóthey appear on the cover done by Mark Evans also. Speaking of covers, Okamuraís cover for The Rifter #31, a Kreeghor in power-armour battling a Cosmo-Knight, with a black hole uncomfortably close in the background, is stupendous. If you get a chance to see Apollo Okamuraís old website do so, and check out the last colour picture, itís the New German Republicís Erin Tarn (not to be confused with the grandmotherly real Erin Tarn).

January 19, 2007

An Argument to Change Names, NOT

Sometimes having a certain name must absolutely suck if youíre trying to get anywhere as a publicly known figure, like say an artist. What do you do if you are a visual artist and there is a well-known singer with the same name, and, a well-known actor with the same name? How do you get anywhere? To find out the answer to that I think we have to talk to Vince Martin, one of the Palladium freelance artists (or maybe he was regular staff for a while). A little bit of Googling only resulted in really one page about the man. It says in addition to his Palladium work, which Iíll get to in a moment, Martin also provided interior art for the Rolemaster book Spell Law, 3rd Ed. If this mini-database is complete Martin was published only from 1994 to 1996. Very curious.

Martin contributed to the Rifts series for the South America 1 & 2, Underseas, Japan, Juicer Uprising, and Coalition War Campaign world books, as well as Mercenaries and Pantheons of the Megaverseóthe Greek gods section. Vince Martinís styleóI keep harping this, but it is true, and other artists involved donít deserve the commentówas distinctive. You could pick his work out with the briefest of glances. He shaded with intricate cross-hatching, a kind of pointillismóB&W drawing style not paintingó or sharp angled lines, and liked ragged almost electrical edges of material/clothing. Just as a bit of pseudo-trivia, the new style ground troops and power armour of the Coalition War Campaign were almost exclusively Vince Martinís work, while the old-style examples were likewise nearly all Wayne Breaux. Also Martin did my much-adored Spiny Ravager.

January 18, 2007

Rings, Masterminds and Rifts

I have neglected a couple of interior artists from Palladiumís illustrious group of regulars. So, today I thought that I would get back to them. Todayís artist is Ramon Perez whose artwork can also be found in the Legends of the Five Rings RPG and in the Mutants and Masterminds RPG, among other places probably. As with many other artists connected to Palladium, Perez got to define the look of certain things within the game by drawing them first, but also in his case sometimes after the fact. Case in point for after-the-fact, that Black Faerie I spoke of. Also, though he didnít come up with the design, there is a real strength to his drawings of the Coalitionís new armour.

Where I see the definition of things in Perezís work is in the Free Quebec book. The standard FQ armour is just stupendous looking. Itís elegant and utilitarian, and intimidating, all the while separating them from the rest of the Coalition. The Violator Samas is an even better example as it easily shows both the original machine that it was derived from as much as it shows the new styling. One thing I feel I have to make note of is that Perez was a bit of a victim of censorship on one picture and then sometime later a similar picture from someone else was not censored. That has to be kind of awkward. Also another claim to fame for Perez was the inclusion of a multiple part Rifts comic strip that ran in The Rifter. Phenomenal work there.

January 17, 2007

A Name Among Names

There is one more cover artist that I want to talk about. Heís done covers for one of the AD&D settings that has novels, but I donít remember the game so I can only guess it was Forgotten Realms. Iím fairly sure it wasnít Dragonlance, so what else could it be? The first and foremost example of this artistís covers for Palladium was the game Nightspawn, which was renamed to Nightbane after protests by a certain idiot who I will leave nameless. Now for the big reveal, the artist is the one (and I guess only) Brom. Actually it appears he is Gerald Brom. Brom is a cool name if youíre into the whole I-have-only-one-name thing. Speaking of ďthingsĒ, he certainly has a thing for the dark and the weird. You have to love it.

In the early days of The Rifter I notice that Brom did the covers for issues 2, 7, and 8. Bromís style is distinctive even aside from his subject matter. He is also another artist who likes distinguishing markings and iconography/script-styles. The Rifter #8 has an unforgettable Frankenstein-ian monster looking absolutely morose, clutching a dead dove, and standing in the doorway of a crypt. Very evocative and emotive. Brom did the cover for the first edition core book of the Deadlands RPG as well. One of his works that I really love is called ďAutumnĒ, or at least that is the alt-tag he gave the image in the gallery at his website. I would love to have it as cover for one of my RPG books. The only problem is that at this point I would have to write a game specifically for it. Oh, and the lack of certain apparel might be an issue, even though there is nothing really untoward to be seen. You know how some people get nonetheless.

January 16, 2007

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

I received an excellent question the other day. Where can I find these game book covers so I can see them? Well, Iíll tell you now. First though, I just want to say that Iím not doing this for the purpose of driving people to the company. If that happens I wonít complain. However, I am just looking for something of interest to talk about, and being this is a place full of visual artists and those interested in the visual arts I am left with a limited pool of information from which to talk. Once Iíve exhausted that experience to speak from Iíll have to move on to other topics, and hopefully people will stick around. Of course, if I start putting together some art then Iíll have something to talk about. Anyway, to see the covers of which I have been talking here is the link. Online Catalogue

While I am at it, I ran across a page that has links to the homepages of some of the companyís artists. It is Artist Gallery. I found it helpful to open the pages into a different tab since this page is a frame, and a badly done one at that. You might have to fiddle to see the links in the top frame. Some of these artists are ones I have mentioned with regards to interior art. Those interior art pieces will almost exclusively be black and white. Also, the bonus of these artistís galleries is that they show pieces from other games and other products like book or magazine covers. Also, donít forget Google. That is how I found out Keith Parkinson still had a site up, which was a good partial showcase of his work.

January 15, 2007

Chaos and Rifts Abound

I think I've just about run out of spectacular cover artists that have worked for Palladium, but there is one yet I haven't mentioned, and that is a wonderful chap named Scott Johnson. I have a large mass-produced poster by Johnson that I got from the company. It was a huge hit the instant it graced the cover of The Rifter #18. The poster shows one of the famous Glitterboys of the Rifts game, just an absolutely iconic figure, perhaps even if you have no idea what it is, a knight in shining armour by any times standards, and it stands, fire licking around it, disaster evident behind it, grasping an American flag fluttering in the breeze. Proud. Defiant. A survivor in the best sense of the word.

Of course they began selling signed and numbered prints of it, and eventually it landed on another book cover that would last, the cover for the core book of their new game Chaos Earth. Johnson also did the new cover for the Rifts Ultimate Edition, a sort of super-revision of the original core book, not quite a 2nd Edition because the rules are hardly changed, but with so much additional material and re-written material that it might as well have been a new edition. I just found out that this cover has been included in this year's (2006) Spectrum 13: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. It's a nice cover and all, conveys a certain amount of the game's feeling, but maybe I'm just so freakishly adoring of Keith Parkinson's original cover, I just can't get that much into this new cover.

January 14, 2007

No, No, Not the Door-Man

One of the newcomer artists to Palladium (maybe), though not new to the industry, which appeared doing covers for their RPG books at the time of Palladiumís 20th Anniversary back in 2000, is a man by the name of Dave Dorman. He did some absolutely amazing covers for books 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 a.k.a. Aftermath of the Rifts: Siege on Tolkeen / Coalition Wars series. Judging from the way the marketing has gone I think it would fair to say that Dorman has now defined the look of the gameís much-vaunted Cyber-Knights and their Psi-Swords. It might not hurt that the exact same man is on more than one cover. He first appeared on the Cyber-knight book, but them made an appearance on the Rifts: Game Masterís Guide and may appear elsewhere I canít think of at the moment.

On Dormanís own site the header first off mentions ďStar Wars artĒ. Interestingly enough there is also a link to a graphic novel that he is working on called ďRAILĒ which is a part of a website called ďThe WastelandsĒ which also has a web serial. It looks very interesting.

I think out of Daveís covers my favourites are the ones with a lot of figures, robots, and action going on like the Aftermath book, or the GMís Guide, though I wouldnít sneeze at the first Coalition Wars cover. Thatís a pretty awesome spell (Life Drain) that the mage is zapping those Coalition grunts with on that first cover. Of course for my favourite magic spell, one called Ballistic Fire, Iíd really want to see video/animation for it, especially a powerful volley of it smashing into a Samas, one fiery missile slamming into it after another, in a matter of a couple seconds, driving it further and further down out of the sky.

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Robert G. Male

Name: Robert G. Male
Location: Ontario, Canada

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