Many moons ago, I was in a musical instrument store, and overheard a guy ask an employee (in all seriousness), “Which of these guitars is gonna make me sound like Clapton?”
And as crazy as I thought the guy was, for a long time I felt the same way about Photoshop brushes, thinking that if I could just get the brush set of [insert name of your favorite artist here], I’d be able to paint like them.
These days, I understand that A) there is far more to a great artist than just a PS brush or two, and B) a truly gifted artist can draw me under the digital table with nothing more than the default out-of-the-box brush.
However, I just can’t stop myself from picking up cool new PS brushes, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone making better brushes than Kyle T. Webster.
Tons of variety, and I now heavily utilize his Lush Oil, Clean Comics, and his brand new Animator Pencil. The last one I used on the 5 minute sketch below:
That one may actually be the pencil that replaces Sketchbook Pro for me…
Many of his brushes are “pay what you want,” or at very least incredibly affordable, and he’s got lots of example videos showing what they can all do.
Check out his site, and you too will be drawing like Clapton in no time!
Growing up, my Dad loved rebuilding muscle cars. My older sister’s first car ever was a rebuilt ’66 Mustang, candy apple red, with chrome finishes. A short time later he rebuilt a ’67 Fastback Mustang. He had a Model-T that he worked on for a while as well, and in general loved (and still loves) cars.
I’ve always wanted a muscle car, but never wanted to miss out on things like power windows, power locks, power steering, A/C, etc. You can call me soft. I’m okay with that.
So for years I just drove a “car.” Nothing fancy. I had a Dodge Somethingorother and a Kia Standardcar, and a few other daily drivers here and there. Heck for many years after my wife and I got married, we had no money, and drove cars that could barely get us down the road. So I saved and sacrificed, and a few years back I bought a muscle car. It was a new 2012 Dodge Challenger, and it was bright orange with black racing stripes.
Yes it was a flashy, and over-the-top car, and no I wasn’t compensating or going through a midlife crisis! 😉 This was the car I had always dreamed of owning, and it just happened to take the first half of my life to get it…
Turns out the Challengers hold their value really well, so when I started poking around at the new models a couple of weeks back, the dealership was quick to make me an offer. Along with this, they just so happened to have taken delivery of what’s called a “Scat Pack Shaker” model of Challenger that very day. It was black, it had a thing poking up through the hood, and it looked super mean. So I traded in my Orange Monster for the Black Beast below!
I don’t take anything for granted. I grew up on a cattle farm, and I drove a pickup. I moved to Seattle with around 50 bucks and my wife, and we scraped and clawed to get to where we are now. Driving this car reminds me of how hard I’ve worked, and is my way of having a bit of fun as a reward.
Also it sounds like it could eat a house when it starts…
I’ve worked in the industry for quite a while now. While this is just a fancy way of saying “I’m old,” it also means I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a lot of games in one degree or another. Let me list a few of them here, and then I’ll explain why:
Kameo: Elements of Power
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
Ryse: Son of Rome
Age of Empires Online
Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure
NFL Fever 2003
NBA Inside Drive 2003
Conker: Live and Reloaded
And on and on…
I’ve also been to countless E3s, Siggraphs, CTN Expos, and now one Gamescom.
In all of that time, and working on all of those games, I’ve never personally been involved in one that received the level of positive response that our game “Crackdown 3” did.
Think of Gamescom as the German version of E3, only with attendance estimates at somewhere between 350,000-400,000 gamers passing through the halls over the course of the event. You heard me… FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND.
The teams at Microsoft, Reagent, Sumo, Cloudgine, and Axis were tasked with trying to wow at least some of those gamers, and we collectively busted our humps to show off “Crackdown 3” in the best possible way we could. Did we succeed? In this Art Director’s opinion, we NAILED IT. The first thing we showed was on the stage, in the form of our “Crackdoc” first-look video for the game:
As you can see, we’ve introduced cloud-based craziness in the form of full city-wide destruction! This got the chatter going at the show, and by that night we found ourselves onstage, doing a live demo to a room of 500 rowdy fans. The game’s visionary and Lead Designer, Dave Jones, showed what we were capable of, and the crowd stood and cheered.
The fans got so into it in fact, that at least one of them forgot they weren’t supposed to videotape what they were seeing… I’ll get to that in a second. 😉
The next few days were spent giving behind-closed-door demos to members of the press, and that’s where the REAL buzz started to happen. We showed them a bit of our Single Player and/or Co-Op Campaign, and then ran them through a live demo of what they saw on the stage earlier in the week. Then we handed them a controller and let them go nuts blowing up the city on their own. Some of my favorite quotes from those demos:
“This is the game I always dreamed of playing as a child.”
“There is nothing worse than playing a game where you can blow up a garbage can, but then not shoot a hole in a wall. This totally solves that.”
“I was so skeptical coming in here, but you guys have blown me away. This is officially at the top of my list of anticipated games.”
“This… wow… I just… it… wow… I mean… you can blow anything up… it… wow.”
Gaming forums like NeoGAF lit up with intense discussions of whether or not what they were seeing was real (it was), and exactly what it means for gaming. Forbes wrote an article about what it means to the cloud, and at least a dozen other sites wrote glowing reviews of what they had witnessed.
On the second to last day, we decided that since someone had already filmed the on-stage demo, we might as well do it for real and release some quality footage. So we partnered with IGN and released this video of Dave Jones walking viewers through the destruction experience:
If you just watched the above video, I hope it got you excited to play “Crackdown 3,” because that’s where the true magic is at. As viewers of modern-day media, be it films, games, or television, we see stuff blowing up all the time. It’s only once you get the controller in your hand, and realize how much it turns the “rules” you’ve come to live by in your favorite game on their ear, that you fully understand what this could mean to gaming.
I know I’m gushing, and if you know me or come to this site regularly, you know it’s rare for me to do so. I’ve just been waiting for a LONG time to share what I’ve been working on with all of you, and I couldn’t be more proud of what our team has accomplished. I’m just the loud guy who makes too many poop jokes. We’ve got brilliant people doing the real work, and the proof is in the pudding. The concrete-filled, explosive-laced, shattered glass-covered pudding. I’m immensely fortunate to be a part of this project, and this team.
(This is just a few of us who made it to Gamescom. So many additional amazing people made it all happen.)
Even when things weren’t exactly fun at the show (like when I had to spend 8 hours in my hotel room doing a last-minute edit of some footage), it was still a blast. This is the most talented team I’ve ever worked with (present company excluded), and that’s saying a lot, because I’ve worked with some incredibly brilliant people.
We’re going to deliver something special to your Xbox One, beginning in 2016. So buckle up, and bring a hardhat… you’re going to need it.
Oh… and hit up our website at Crackdown.com if my too many words above weren’t enough.
One thing I keep neglecting to mention is that my book, “Dog Complex: The Comic Strip You Never Knew You Loved” is finally available on Amazon!
(It’s so good, that even the “art” has two “a”s.)
As you can see from above, I tried to PACK it with content. You can order it right now from Amazon, with free 2-day shipping (for Prime customers) by CLICKING HERE, and I really hope you do. It’s worth it!
Dave Johnson is a Senior Art Director at Microsoft Studios, a graduate of Animation Mentor, Motivarti, and the Art Institute of Seattle. He is an avid Animation film fan, a devoted Father and Husband, an amateur golfer (read: he stinks), cartoonist, a guitarist, and frankly a bit of a moron. He also enjoys writing short bios about himself in the third person.
Dave's list of game credits include "Ryse: Son of Rome," "Age fo Empires Online," "Homeworld: Cataclysm," "Ground Control," "Kameo: Elements of Power," "Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts," "Viva Pinata," "Alan Wake," "Kinectimals," "Beards and Beaks," and "Toy Soldiers," just to name a few. He's currently working on "Crackdown 3" for the Xbox One.
Poke around on the site, and feel free to drop Dave a line if you should see fit. He'd love to hear from you!