Cuda Zuri WIP 06

The rig is coming along nicely! Here’s a pose I put her in to test the weights. There’s a bit left to do on her, but I think I’ll be wrapping her up within a day or two. She’s definitely the best character model I’ve ever made, and I think I’ll do even better on the next one. I learned a lot working on her.

My American Girl games



My babies! Well, no, not really, but I put a ton of heart and soul into these games. I grew up reading American Girl books and just about fell out of my chair when I was asked by my company to design a game for one of the characters. On Julie, I was lead designer, lead artist, and lead (as well as “only”, for the most part) event scripter. On Kit, I was co-lead designer, lead artist, and a senior event scripter. Jim and I worked on Kit together, which was an immensely enjoyable experience. We work brilliantly together and everything went smoothly with us on the same project, combining our talents. I hope he and I find employment at the same place again in the future, but we have dreams of founding our own company in case that doesn’t actually happen. 🙂

I had a lot of freedom on these games (freedom I probably won’t have again for a long time) and I enjoyed that. My most prominent artwork in both is the 25+ 3D character models used in each. I also designed the menu systems and most of the interfaces found throughout the game, such as the travel map, the cluebook, and the clothes trunk. A fun trivia fact here is nearly all of my Kit character models got “first-shot” approval by the licensor, including Kit herself. I love replicating licensed characters in 3D! I love the challenge of making a 3D model or a 2D painting match the licensor’s expectations.

It’s a shame THQ and American Girl did such a craptacular job of marketing these games, because I think they deserved better. Kit’s game never appeared on the site while the related movie was still in theaters, despite being released over a week before the movie, and neither games can be found anywhere on the American Girl website unless you deliberately search for them. I’ll never understand why a company would pour so many resources into developing a product and then ignore it once it’s on shelves. I hope they do better some day!

Portfolio Pages

No huge revelation for today – I spent this evening on portfolio page layouts. The book has about 12 pages in it right now, probably fewer once I cull some of the weaker pieces. I also started the rig for Cuda, which I’ll hopefully have completed in a day or so. Also, I found out that Seattle, Washinton is apparently home to a mind-blowing 15,000 game industry jobs and at least 150 “casual game” companies (not to mention all the major studios). WOW. Jim and I might be heading west, after all! :O

Cuda Zuri WIP 04

I had little over an hour to work on this today after spending most of the day helping my fiance’s brother move and then cooking a week’s worth of dinners! I tried to make the most of it and fixed up some seams, finished the braids, cleaned up the “hair wads”, and added a bunch of detailing to the shoes which won’t even show up in most renders. I’ll likely wrap up the painting tomorrow and start rigging. I can’t wait to call this one done – I’ve got a ton more art in the queue!

As for the job search, the debate now is whether to try to stay local to where we are now, which offers few opportunities (and is even tougher considering we work in the same industry); or, to pack our bags for the west coast, namely Seattle, which seems to be bursting at the seams with not only game companies, but IT jobs in general. Locally, it almost seems that every job change is going to be matched with selling/buying a house and another move, since the companies are so far away from one another here in Illinois. While I’d love to settle at one company and stay there forever, happily churning out art and making games, I’m realistic enough to know that companies/jobs/people change. I also want to ensure that he and I can both find employment we are happy with…after all, that’s the point of this entire effort!

Cuda Zuri WIP 03

I put in several more hours today! Here’s what I added: lots of texture tightening-up, bump maps for both skin and armor unwraps, swords, and the design to the midsection of her armor. I also finally gave her eyelids. Don’t know how I missed that the first time through, but she has them now! All of the stuff left to do is nitpicky stuff and making sure the designs match up at the seams. I’m still on track to rig her Monday, so hopefully all will continue to go smoothly on this one. I’m happy with her so far, but I am eager to begin something new. 😀

Cuda Zuri WIP 02

It’s time yet again for the daily WIP! I got home late today so I only had about 2 hours to put into the model today. I spent most of it on the boots, which are still a bit of a wobbly unwrappy mess. I also added details all over and added some more textures. I still haven’t quite decided what to do with the midsection of her armor, but I’ll be figuring that out tomorrow! Lots to do still, but I’m pretty happy with this so far!

Cuda Zuri WIP 01


Hullo! Another evening, another few hours of practice! Here’s Cuda Zuri, a warrior elf girl from somewhere far, far away. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on her already, having built her from a similar model I made last year that I decided to spruce up (a lot). The modeling is done, but there’s plenty of texture painting to keep me busy for a few days still. I’ll add more WIPs as I progress. Hope you enjoy!

PS: Here’s the model I made last year: http://www.majoh.com/art/3d/NanenahWarrior_3D_large.jpg

Indiana Jones

My first completely new art since moving! Moving in with my fiance occupied at least the last five or so weeks of my life, so it’s a huge relief to finally be arting regularly again! Here we have Indiana Jones, a macho, rugged man, because my portfolio lacks macho, rugged men. I made him in Photoshop CS2, over the course of 2 days, with about 4 hours total of time spent. A much larger version of this is available on my site, www.majoh.com. Hope you like!

Firiona Vie

I think I originally painted this in February, and I spent last night touching it up. Her face had always bugged me in the old version, and somewhere in the last 6 months I must have gained whatever knowledge I needed to possess in order to fix it, because I am much happier with it now. Here she is, much prettier than before! 😀

Out with the old

The first thing I’m doing to prep my work for my impending job search is to remove anything that isn’t my very best from my site. This is always a tough task – it’s like picking who’s going to be on your team in gym class, knowing very well that you’re about to upset someone who thought you were their best friend. Here is my ode to old work:

I’m sorry, painting I slaved on in 2005 until my wrist hurt and my eyes dried up, but you just don’t make the cut anymore. You were a good friend, through thick and thin. True, you were once my featured Deviation on DeviantArt, but as the years passed you’ve fallen to page 4 of my gallery, pushed back by mere practice pieces that somehow are better than you. I promise to always remember you. But times are tough, and I dread the thought of some future employer finding out how badly I used to draw noses. If it’s any consolation, I’m sure my mother would love you unconditionally and demand a print to hang in her house somewhere.

Sincerely,
Mandi