The Wolf Among Us
Please give us your name, company and position.
Dave Bogan, Telltale Games, Director of Art
Tell us more about your winning Into the Pixel piece – what does it showcase? How long did it take to create?
The piece I submitted was a candidate for a marketing screenshot during the production of Wolf Among Us, our game based on the comic book series Fables by Bill Willingham. We had managed to come up with an art pipeline that closely resembled the inked pages of a comic book, and it was so fun to tinker around with the models and sets in our Telltale game engine. This piece ended up a cast away I think as it didn't fit the marketing message that we wanted to speak to at the time. It is one of my favorites because the moment feels so candid, as if you just walked out of the bathroom in the Trip Trap and disturbed the conversation Bigby wolf was having with Holly behind the bar, it feels like an old retro photograph to me. Gray Rogers (concept) and Erik Ose (environment artist) worked for just over a month on the set, each character took about 3-4 days to concept (Ryan Jones) and another 12 or so days to model and texture (Jason Findley, Steve Moore, Megan Gritzfeld). I posed the characters in Maya then exported to our engine to do the character lighting and camera composition. The piece is quite close to 100% screenshot from the engine, I believe in Photoshop I painted in a slight vignette and cleaned up some faceted spots on the characters.
Are there ever any Easter Eggs or hidden items that you like to include in your Into the Pixel piece? Can you show us where it is?
Just above the Trip Trap sign behind the bar there are 3 Polaroid pictures one of which says "banned" on it. Gray Rogers caricatured himself as a patron that was banned from the bar. He must have done something quite terrible to be shunned at being such a seedy bar, or maybe he was a Fabletown narc or something.
What are some of the biggest changes in game art that you’ve witnessed over your career?
When I started 20 years ago in the industry at Lucasarts I was doing hand drawn/scanned animation on Monkey Island 3, my next game I worked on was Grim Fandango and had some of Lucasarts first realtime 3D modeled and animated characters weighing in at a whopping 250 poly's or something, so I have seen quite a bit of change over the last 20 or so years. I would say the tools available to create art quickly has changed the most, including being able to find quick reference online instead of looking at books and magazines or going to the library. The thing that has stayed the same is the fact that strong fundamentals of design remain the key to creating great looking art regardless of poly count or texture resolution.
Are there any games where the art really resonated with you? What about in any other mediums like TV/movies/books?
The early Lucasarts games really inspired me like Sam and Max Hit the Road, Day of the Tentacle, and Full Throttle, they combined two loves of mine, hand drawn 2D animation, and video games. I also loved old arcade games like Dragons Lair, T.M.N.T., Gauntlet, Bad Dudes, and N.A.R.C.. Aside from games, old Disney classics were my inspiration, as well as the Marvel comic books Micronauts, Spider-Man, and DC's Batman.
What tips would you give to students/aspiring artists that want to enter the gaming industry?
The Internet is such an amazing tool for reference and inspiration - that is a big help to anyone starting in art these days. My advice would vary from discipline to discipline but from concept to modeling to texturing I would say learn how to draw and paint, learn the principals of good art and design. The art tools available today can let anyone create things relatively quickly and easily, without good fundamentals your art will get lost in the sea of ever expanding portfolios.
Do you have any art galleries or profiles online where people can check out your work?
I actually am one of the few these days who don't I think. My art exists within Telltale's games. My favorite work has been Art Directing Wolf Among Us, it stands out as looking unique in the market, has a great story, and powerful visuals.