6 years ago, I was working for an independent computer games company that ran into some success while subcontracting for Sony with the Wipeout franchise. As a result of that success, we were bought out by Traveller’s Tales, which was subsequently acquired by Warner Brothers. In the epic words of Qui-Gon Jinn, ‘There’s always a bigger fish’. The long and the short of the acquisition was that after having worked on what is considered the best sci-fi racing game, our team was plunged into the world of children’s games via the LEGO theme. As much as the change of subject matter was initially underwhelming, I was surprised to find that I became increasingly hooked on LEGO, as much as I really didn’t need yet another expensive hobby. That famous Danish toy became truly irresistible as the 33% staff discount and occasional freebie gave me exclusive access to mountains of coloured plastic. Work-wise, I was to spend several years crunching on the LEGO games pipeline: LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Batman, LEGO Indiana Jones, LEGO Rockband and LEGO Harry Potter. By the time a chance came up to work on LEGO Pirates Of The Caribbean, I took up an opportunity to jump to a games company in London, and that was the end of that. Here is a small collection of some of the art I worked on during my LEGO odyssey.
LEGO Batman was a fun project to work on. The levels were colourful, and the excellent work of the designers gave the artists a lot of possibilities. This still features the outside of the Joker’s funhouse. A rich theme to create art for.
The Typhoon Turbo submarine was part of LEGO’s Atlantis range. I was always impressed with this rather bold theme that explored the concept of science fiction within the expanses of the marine world. This Jules Verne inspired idea for a LEGO range involved futuristic deep-sea divers, crazy-funky, red-themed, submarinal vehicles and plenty of ‘orrible underwater Neptune-themed beasties.
After a few years working in computer games, I realised that I was more of a technical artist than a creative one. The animation shown above was one of the most enjoyable projects I worked on whilst at Warner Brothers. I had to create a tool that made it easy for the animators to create ‘build-it’ animations. i.e. animations of LEGO models being constructed. A very commonly needed process within the world of LEGO computer game development.
LEGO Rockband was very fun to be involved with art-wise. The game combined the rhythm-music game genre featured in games like ‘Guitar Hero’, with the LEGO theme. Whilst I wasn’t on the project for a long time, it was amusing to work with these characters. In fact, most of the time I spent on LEGO Rockband was in the studio, helping Suddi Raval with some session guitar work.
The above piece was done as some random artwork for one of the LEGO games, and features the previously mentioned Typhoon Turbo in the background. Whilst not exactly riveting in subject matter, it was interesting to explore the technical capabilities of Maya’s lighting engine, Mental Ray. I would so easily start talking about global illumination and HDRI at this point, but that would be far more boring than any normal person would be prepared to handle without slipping into a coma.
I’ve started to appreciate 2d artwork much more than 3d artwork, and am always envious of what a talented concept artist can produce. This piece was done in hommage to the work of the old-school fantasy artists, such as Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo. Those guys used to paint fantastic portraits of princess-rescuing warriors, standing on top of slain beasties, and I just had to portray that via LEGO!