Saturday, 29 January 2011

New work: Texas Renegades logo

Below is a newly completed logo for the tabletop wargaming group (or "clan") the Texas Renegades. I was contacted by Royce late last year as he was looking to commission a logo for his group to put on their t-shirts and promo material for forthcoming tournaments. He wanted a really nice logo to make his team stand out from the crowd.

I really enjoyed doing this job because the aesthetics went in an interesting direction, but also becuase Royce is a dream client. He's fast to respond, decisive and clear in his communication and likes my work. Win!

We experimented with the idea of putting a saber and rifle behind the horizontal boards, but eventually dropped the notion because the firearm in particular would have been obscured so much that it was hard for the viewer to "read" what it was. We also had to play around with the "Renegades" text to achieve a balance between it being legible but suitably haphazard.

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Friday, 28 January 2011

Mondo’s ‘Dracula’ by Vania Zouravliov and Aaron Horkey

Fom Slashfilm.com:

"Mondo‘s 2011 poster slate begins with the most famous monster of them all: Dracula. Timed with the 80 (!) year anniversary of Tod Browning‘s 1931 film starring Bela Lugosi, Mondo has commissioned Vania Zouravliov and Aaron Horkey to collaborate on two beautiful posters."

Check out that typography!

I have been a fan of Zouravliov's work for a number of years and am proud to have even had illustrations featured in the same anthologies as him. Check out his (NSFW) myspace here.

EDIT: At the time of writing his myspace seems slightly broken. :-(



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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Awesome new music video by Jonathan Glazer

Jonathan Glazer raises the bar...again.



Treat Me Like Your Mother from Robert Erdei on Vimeo.

Paris dungeon crawl

Below are some more photos I took in the Paris catacombs during my visit in October (original post here). The tour of the tunnels actually begins at a certain point underground, and to reach this rendezvous one has to walk for a good few minutes though the caverns. My friend and I arrived rather ahead of another group and so we wound our way through the belly of Paris alone.  I was struck by how Gygaxian the place was having, at some junctures, a rather "lived-in" look. There is graffiti dating back hundreds of years and carvings, seats and altars dotted about. One half expects to meet a group of kobolds playing cards...

The first one screeches and draws its sword. What do you do?





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Monday, 24 January 2011

Knightmare

I am becoming more and more fascinated with the dungeon crawl genre of fantasy and this post will no doubt be the first of many focusing on this oeuvre. Click on the tag in the footer to see the others.

The clikerty-click world of the interwebs reminded me the other day of the existence of the show Knightmare. This was a British children's television series broadcast in the late 80s and early 90s which was, essentially, a gameshow with the trappings of a fantasy roleplaying game. Teams of young contestants would direct one of their number around a dungeon, solving clues and gathering treasure in an attempt to win a prize. The unique aspect of the show was that the single dungeoneer wore an enclosing helmet which meant he or she could not actually see the "dungeon". The environment was added in real-time using chromakey to composite in artwork and CGI. Only the team mates who were directing the poor sod could view the rooms he or she explored, and it was their job to give the schmuck directions. This is explained in far greater detail on the excellent Wiki page here.

I remember this programme only vaguely and re-watching clips on YouTube I can see why. I find it rather dull and frustrating to see some poor child stumble around a virtual set while his squawking team mates try and get him to turn a bit to the right - no more - no back a bit - no, just stand the fuck still. I must, however, be alone in this as the show was immensely popular and attracted up to five million viewers.

The reason I am blogging about it is that it embodies two things I love - the dungeon crawl and the 80s. The first title sequence (there were several) is a great example of 80s animation with chiaroscuro shading and wonderful lighting effects. The sets embody the archetypal dungeon and are filled with portcullises, squeaking doors, magical pools and so forth. The dungeoneer's health is tracked with a little computer-generated animation of a head which decays as stamina is reduced.

If you can get over the fact you are watching a bind child trample around a bluescreen stage, then the clips on YouTube will give you a wonderful insight into this bonkers mix of 80s children's television and classic dungeon crawl.





Saturday, 22 January 2011

The photography of Vivian Maier

The discovery of Vivian Maier's photographs has been doing the rounds recently. This little video report tells the compelling story of how the work of one of the twentieth century's greatest unsung photographers was rescued from oblivion after a box of her negatives was found in a car boot sale.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

My minis on the Eolith blog

A quick post to say that my good friend Steve, who is head of Eolith Miniatures has kindly posted a little piece featuring my minis on his blog. Click here to see the article. Thanks Steve!

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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Amazing interface

Check out this amazing interface concept for a DJ turntable which allows Jockeys to control their MP3s as if they were vinyl using a touch screen.


Multi Touch Light Table: GERGWERK from GERG WERK on Vimeo.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Genestealer Cult battle report

"You see", said my friend Dakari Mane with a grin on his face, "my Sisters of Battle can combine both hand flamer shots and use the normal flamer template".
"But that template covers my whole squad!" I exclaimed.
"I know"
"Dang!"

Things were not going well for me and my little Genestealer Cult at this point. Their plans to infest the local system and pave the way for their big brothers to arrive were being hampered by some pesky Sisters of Battle.

My pal Dakari is a seasoned 40K tournament player and he was kindly offering to purge my unclean little 'Stealers one Saturday afternoon.This was the first outing for my Cult and I must say I was enjoying it very much. Dakari knows the rules backwards and as a result we didn't have to refer to the weighty 40K core book once. His familiarity with the system didn't help him though, as my Cult ripped through his right flank, mainly thanks to some awesome psychics from my Magus.

I am pleased to say I won the game decisively, despite one of my ugly critters going haywire and accidentally killing my Brood Lord. I was using the fan-made Bell of Lost Souls army list and it seemed pretty evenly balanced. I hadn't played 40k for a long time, but although my memory of the rules was rusty the tactics I remember (don't bunch your force up, concentrate fire from different directions all one one enemy unit etc) all proved valid.

Pics below. I have another battle report up my sleeve featuring my lilly-livered Lamenters.





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Saturday, 15 January 2011

White Mischief at the Barbican

White Mischief, the UK's foremost Steampunk club extravaganza, put on a show at London's prestigious Barbican art gallery on Thursday and I was there to support them. I feel rather proud to have had some hand in setting this party up, as a friend of mine works at the Barbican and had asked me if I knew anyone in the Steampunk fraternity who ran parties as she wanted to profile the subculture as part of a wider "Fashion looks Back" event. Thus I put her in touch White Mischief.

We were greeted on arrival by many familiar faces, including Herr Doktor and The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. It transpired that our little party was being sledgehammered (and I use the term endearingly) into an exhibition on contemporary Japanese fashion. Apparently there was a talk that explained the link between the two, which I missed. Everyone who had listened to this speech assured me there was a connection between the sleek, modern oriental garments and the corsets and rayguns of the retro-futureverse, so I will believe them.

There were costume making workshops run by Carnival Catalyst, performances by TMWWNBBFN, micro-displays of Makers' artifacts all of which resulted in a wonderfully diverse and entertaining evening.




Andrew O'Neill - occult comedian and Steampunk enthusiast. Check out his site here.

Steampunks - always outnumbered, never outgunned



Cassie uses a spoon to activate this man's sound generating costume. You don't have to use a spoon, she just had one to hand...for reasons best known to herself.



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Friday, 14 January 2011

St Etheldreda

To many in the modern West, the obsession with female virginity is somewhat incomprehensible. However, its merits also seem to have been lost on the seventh century king Ecgfrith. He was disappointed to learn that his new wife, Æthelthryth, wanted to remain a virgin after their marriage and pursue her calling to Christ. This prompted Ecgfrith to try and take his wife (and, probably more accurately, her virginity) by force from the cloister in which she was hiding. He failed, she carried on being a virgin and was later canonized. She is now known as St Etheldreda (Wiki here, Catholic Encyclopaedia here).

There is a13th Century Norman church in my home town dedicated to St Etheldreda. I am very fond of this building as I sung in the choir there as a child. Coming from a non-religious household and having decided I was agnostic from a young age, the pomp and ceremony of the proceedings was rather lost on me. However, the archaic nature of the building and the knowledge that it embodied an ancient faith seemingly full of mysteries inspired me. When I took up photography it was one of the places I often brought my camera and I have photographed the building a great deal over the years. Some of my photos are below.

I have just picked up a copy of Doris Jones-Baker's excellent book The Folklore of Hertfordshire (part of the The Folklore of the British Isles series). I was excited to read that there is a carving of a wyvern in the church, which I do not remember seeing. Along with there more common cousins dragons, these beasts are a breed of serpent. Snakes were, of course, responsible for the fall of man and are therefore cursed by God and were shunned by all right-minded folk. The presence of the beast in St Etheldreda's warrants a trip back to the parish to hunt it I think.





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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Milk

Amazing illustrations by Milk. MySpace here.




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Monday, 10 January 2011

Pterosaurs

One of the most evocative pieces of illustration I ever came across as a child was in the Ladybird children's edition of The Lost World (by "children's edition" they mean "abridged", because all children are stupid. Or at least, I was). The picture, which alas I do not have to-hand, depicts the night at the Challenger expedition camp when a pterosaur swoops down and snaps up the carcass they are roasting for dinner on the fire. The beast is ghoul-ish, with a cadaverous thorax and enormous glowing eyes. It made quite an impression on me, and has given me a healthy fear of giant flying beasts (not that I feel this is wildly unfounded - it seems quite sensible to avoid them).

I was thrilled to read that there is more evidence coming out of Papua New Guinea to suggest that the legendary flying critters which haunt the islands may be real. This article surmises that they may be some kind of living-fossil, descended, and possibly unchanged from, the roast-dinner-stealing pterosaurs. I find this somewhat unlikely, as I sympathise with the counter-cryptozoology argument that any colony of breeding animals will inevitably leave dung, nests and carcasses and so be spotted a mile off. The lack of either for an allegedly land-based animal really does not bode well (sea creatures are somewhat exempt from this).

I am still, however, inspired by the story. Pterosaurs are devil-ish looking creatures - a nightmare mix of spidery talons, teeth and huge eyes. And they can fucking fly. I like the theory that the ones we "see" today, along with other cryptids (as it-may-or-may-not-exist animals are known) are some kind of psychic projection of our race memory. They are the result of a group hallucination stemming from our most primal fear that our children (and our roast dinners) are going to be snatched by a foul, bug-eyed airborne monstrosity.


A sculpture of pterosaur on the facade of London's Natural History Museum.

One of the beasts as sculpted by Waterhouse Hawkins for the Great Exhibition of 1852. They made things to last in those days and used concrete for the statues. They new reside in Crystal Palace Park in South London.

Today pterosaurs look more like the image below than above.
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Saturday, 8 January 2011

I was robbed

Shortly before the Christmas break the arms race began. And I lost.

At my day job we have recently taken to competing at who can festoon their desks with the most and garish Christmas decorations. This leads to place being turned from a fairly respectable open-plan office into something which resembles the aftermath of a bomb planted in a box of tinsel.

I decided to "up the game" this year by creating what I hoped would be a tasteful and eco-friendly sculpture. One trip to a local bit of scrubland, one can of spray glitter and a collection of recycled shiny things later and below was the result. I am also reading up on my Norse mythology at present, so the connection of the branches to Yggdrasil was inspiring.

Although everyone commended me on my efforts, I sadly did not win. The CEO (who deems the competition A Good Thing and so is keen to support it) recognized my environmentally-friendly efforts and gave me a consolation prize. Everyone who competed and did not win got a consolation prize of some description though, so I am not sure what mine really signifies. Other than the CEO is pretty smart, and that's probably how she got to be the CEO.

My beloved tree sculpture. Notice how my colleague is so overwhelmed by the beauty of the thing that he simply cannot bear to look at it. He is seeking respite from the excess of aesthetic pleasure in his Access database.




This is my friend and colleague JMC. Notice how he's "lording it" over me by pretending to be a starfish. He won the competition by virtue of his colour coordinated effort. You'll see the colour he chose is purple. A brief Google tells me this signifies sorrow and suffering. Which is what he's in for now he's robbed my of my rightful accolade.
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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Cutlass logo development

I thought I would share with you the working stages I went through to reach the final logo for Cutlass! The progression you see here is fairly typical for a logo job.

I have worked with Adam at Black Scorpion on several occasions before (see the BS page on my site here) and I was so proud that he asked me to be involved in the project. He knew at the outset that he wanted to create a rulebook for a skirmish game involving fantasy pirates, and had already begun work on the background and rules. It was my job to produce the rulebook and all the associated bits of graphic design. This included the logo, which is where we started.

The stages you see below were proceeded by a fairly thorough bout of visual research. It is tempting to "jump straight in" to projects like this, but I find it always pays to think carefully about where you're going. We honed in on several key visual themes which we wanted to be expressed in the project. These included navigation (maps and sextants in particular), Voodoo (as the game is set in the Spanish Main and involves the undead), tattoos and decay. We also decided there were certain things we wanted to stay away from. The game is land-based, so although we were dealing with pirates we didn't want the imagery to be too nautical.



The first stage was to generate some thumbnails. This is visual brain-storming and from these Adam was able to say which directions he liked, and which he didn't.

Once Adam had decided the direction he wanted us to go in, the next stage was to generate a vector version of the logo in Adobe Illustrator. I am very familiar with this program and feel very comfortable working in it. It allows me to design freely and efficiently while, at the same time, the results look very pristine and presentable. Adam was quite happy with the first version I generated, and decided upon the font option I had shown in the main logo (this was my favorite too).

Adam requested some revisions which resulted in the two versions you see here. He opted for the second as the one we'd pursue to a final design. Another advantage of working in Illustrator is that the results can easily be imported into Photoshop to form the template for the final design.
This is the final design as rendered in Photoshop. The original file is very big - about 6,000 pixels in diameter. Logos need to be high quality because they are often used for print jobs and blown up to large proportions for promo banners and so forth. Working on such large files can really put a strain on your computer, so I tend to work on each element separately, and then stitch the flattened bits together at the end. This is actually the second version of the final logo. When we posted the first version people kept telling us they couldn't read the text. The "t" and "l" were too close together and looked like an "h". I tweaked the tracking a bit and what you see here is the result. It's funny that when you work on something so intensely you can loose sight of the bigger picture and miss things which are obvious to someone with fresh eyes.