Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Scary Berries

Yikes. I haven't posted on here in ages. Lots of things have been happening, with EpicWin 'sploding on the net and AppStore, and I've been flat-out busy for months on making LittleBigPlanet2 (out in January on PS3). We've just heard it gotten a perfect 10 out of 10 score in it's first published review (in Official Playstation Magazine).

But on to the really important stuff, its nearly Christmas! So here's my Christmas image for this year Scary Berries. Hope everyone has a great holiday and lets all hang-out and draw more pictures in 2011!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

iPad Granimator

It was a real honour to be asked by UsTwo to be part of their creative project for iPad: Graninator - back in the days before iPads existed outside of Apples lab of shiny things. And especially when I saw the other folks involved, like me old pal Jon Burgerman, monsterous hero Pete Fowler, and the super-tight work of James Joyce, Buro Destruct, Airside & Moving Brands.

So, Granimator is a free creative package, for designing wallpapers for your iPad and iPhone - it's super-simple to spray artwork all over the screen, and tweak and edit to your hearts content, and then share it with your friends or the world.

Once you've got Granimator you can buy downloadable art packs, which are about the price of a crayon. and start creating. And obviously I'd love it if anyone bought my one, so I can buy myself some new crayons. Or even, one day, an iPad..

So you can just go and get the REXBOX - HI-DRAMA! PACK but if you want to know more here's what you get from me:

Here's some more artwork, sprayed around ala Graminator:

Go buy. Thanks! Bye!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Old Project Roundup: Mysteriously Sporty Characters

Next project from down-the-back-of-my-sofa: an early-stage pitch I did last year, for some sporty characters. I can't go into much detail about this project, or the client, but here are some preliminary roughs which never got to see the light of day...

I was hoping to see these characters animated with a mixture of gloopy/fizzy CG and jerky traditional animation (for the facial expressions) and running, jumping and hurdling around live-action filmed environments, leaving colour and animation in their wake.

Except they didn't, because they fell over at the first hurdle and some other much shinier characters sprinted past them. Ah well.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Old Project Roundup: Becoming Merlin

Next in the roundup of projects I forgot to blog: an interactive storybook I illustrated for the BBC with the production handled by my Preloaded pals. And this one is Bafta nominated. Shiny!

I've put some of the final artwork below, along with a couple initial sketches. As this interactive book employed a liquid-layout (where the layout expands and adapts to your screen size) I had to design the illustrations so they could be viewed on small monitors, where you only see a small fragment of the scene, right up to massive screens where you see all the surrounding scene.

So make sure you watch the book fullscreen when you try it out, otherwise you'll only see a small fragment!

Being Merlin

And lovely job by Preloaded on the story engine, animation and voiceover.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Old Project Roundup: LittleBigPlanet PSP

It's been a bit quiet round here lately (you'll find out why very soon) so I'm catching up on the blog with a few old projects that I have't featured on here before. First up: LittleBigPlanet LBP.

Hopefully you all know about LittleBigPlanet, the game I worked on the visual design of for my pals at Media Molecule. That game was originally for the Playstation3 so when Sony's Studio Cambridge set about making an original PSP version they asked me to continue one role I had on the original project: making the intro, so having assembled the original crew again here's what we made:

As the PSP version of LittleBigPlanet allows all the gameplay and creativity of the PS3 version, but on a portable system - I wanted the scenes to be less about sleeping and dreaming, and more focussed on daydreaming while still interacting with the world around us.

The live-action awesomeness was once again, thanks to director Matt Lossaso and Director of Photography Clive Norman. And wonderful Stephen Fry came back again to sprinkle some talky magic on it, combined with the classic LBP theme by Daniel Pemberton.

If you look closely you might spot me in there too.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Meatbook Faux

My friend Spaff left his Macbook Air with arms-reach of my doodling pen. As he's a fan of fine foods and gastrobation I thought I'd give it a coating of pork:

I hope he won't mind...

Monday, 29 March 2010

Tech Talk at DigiFest

I was very honoured to be asked to talk on "The Technology You Can't Live Without" (and the future of said gadgetry) last week at the Science Musuems Dana Centre. It was performed in the PechaKucha style, meaning 20 slides, 20 seconds per slides, and absolutely no time to pause for breath for 6min 40 seconds.

It was an amazing line-up and great mind-expanding speeches all round. Each wonderfully personal to their author, who were:

Original Photo on

Curated & Introduced by Aleks Krotoski, Tech champion at The Guardian, BBC etc

Bill Thompson, Technology correspondent, BBC.
Margaret Robertson, writer and consultant Lookspring.
Kat Jungnickel, Post-doc Research Fellow, University of East London
Tassos Stevens, Director, Coney.
Matt Jones, Director, Design at BERG
Charles Arthur, Technology Editor, The Guardian.
Jemima Kiss, New Media correspondent The Guardian.
..and me.

I chose to talk on what we might be losing in tactility as we adopt an increasingly digital world. And how, in some crazy future we might be able to put some of that back. Note the words beneath the slides are a rough summary of what I might have said, in the 20 seconds per slide.

I've credited the slides to the original creators wherever I made a note of where they came from in the mad scramble to put the presentation together a couple of hours before the talk.


Hello I'm Rex. I do a lot of drawing, and lot of visual designing. Mainly for interactive mediums like videogames, for example the game LittleBigPlanet for Playstation3, a game all about making your own wonky creations and uploading them online for other players to play about with. It's a game that sums up my love of fiddling with stuff.

This love of playful stuff includes gadgets of all descriptions, bits of craft materials, pens, so many pens, musical instruments that make a vague sounds when you hit them, and probably most of all, videogame systems - mashing buttons and hammering d-pads, and I like pressing these buttons, they feel good to press.

They'd feel good even if they didn't make anything happen on the screen. And the closer that button can feel to the experience of popping bubble-wrap the better the button. That's a Gamecube controller there on the left, the greatest videogame controller ever designed, mainly because it had a really big button on it.

I'm also interested in using these button presses to create virtual experiences, but they have to be fun events that combine the experiences we have had and know, with things that are impossible and fantastical. This offer of fighting an Orc on a bouncy castle kinda sums that up.

And yet my most inspirational gadget of recent times doesn't let me save galaxies, pretend to be in a rock band, or give me something to wave around during a game of virtual tennis. It's something I like to keep in an available pocket and entertain myself with at random points during the day.

It's this hair-holding gadget, yep it's not much more advanced than the wheel. And It's actual purpose is pretty useless to me, I guess if my hair was a bit longer I could wear it and try and look gangstar. But that's not my usual purpose for it. It reminds me of some of the other sensations that the digitising of everything is maybe losing.

And I like it because it shares many of my favourite qualities of playful gadgets and games. It's tactile and it's interesting to touch. It also responds. I squeeze it, it opens. It snaps back shut when I let go. There's a bit of tension in there. So I'll keep opening and closing it till the spring falls off.

And it also promotes a fantasy. It's a tiny Alien facehugger in my pocket. A little bitey monster with as much personality as I want to give it. And it's far better because it was never designed to look like how I'm seeing it. I have some time to myself it will periodically end up on my ear, nose, or broken on the floor. Or with me in my kitchen early this morning covered in ketchup (see above video).

The problem I have with lots of technology is that it's fragile and expensive so it's shut away inside protective cases or behind a screen. Which is a shame as tech likes being touched and is most interesting when you can hack it apart and mess with its innards.

So when looking to the future, I want technology I can poke & twist, break, and rebuild. For me LittleBigPlanet was an attempt to give people something to fiddle with on their Playstation. Dress-up as an astronaut and build a cardboard rocket to fly around in. Or make a rubberised rhino and shoot it out of cannon to see what happens when it hits a giant gong.

Many games employ these realistic physics engines. So that virtual crates can be stacked up and knocked over, just like our earliest play experiences. But we still can't get what we spent most of our childhood doing: gnawing on the blocks and getting splinters in our fingers.

Touch interfaces are fun and I'm as happy as anyone to tap,drag, tickle and stoke but despite all this excitable touching, the only thing I actually feel, is the shiny surface of the iPhone screen. I want to feel lumps and bumps, sharp edges and fur. I want devices that change shape and personality depending on how I'm interacting with them.

I'm still trying to find where I got this image from to credit it.

Gesture-based interfaces such as on the Wii, Playstation Move or Natal, also have lots of potential for arm waving hilarity, but ultimately we're all wallowing in thin air. It's hard to appreciate the simulation of being a mighty warrior when all you're wearing is a t-shirt and trackie-bottoms.

Games players currently achieve trophies for skilful play in games, but these are merely jpegs associated with a user account and can pile up infinitely. How about some real medals that look wonderful but also heavy and awkward to wear out to the pub to brag to your mates, giving bragging an annoying aspect for the bragger, not just the bragee.

I'm hoping for a future where more of the digital data can escape from the hard-discs that holds it. Where the virtual can be transformed back into the physical and cloud computing rains its contents back down on us, as lumpy bits of our stuff. So we can feel it, remember it and share it.

At the moment this takes the form of rapid-prototyping machines, 3D printers. Give them the 3D data of a jewellery design, or the blueprints or your new improved He-Man figure you crowdsourced and it will carve it out of a block of resin or whatever material required.

Or you can log into Figureprints.com , enter the name of your avatar and have your World of Warcraft avatar built and painted and shipped to you. So you'll have perfect facsimile of your virtual self sitting on your desk guarding your paperclips.

The trouble is, it's only a few inches tall. I want the suits of armour from a game, and built to match my real-world size. I want to have the option to do things with it that it was never designed for, to wear it out to the shops, or while trying to ride a jetski. Anything that makes it more than an icon in an inventory.

Apologies to the great CG Artist who originally created the character render.

I don't want these objects because they would have any real value. I want it so I can feel the weight of them, notice the dents and imperfections, give them a bit of a polish, admire them. Feel like I have something that is more than just a statistic to help me win the game.

Epic Sword render by Stefanmarius

And then, just like desembling a lego creation when you're done with it, chuck the armour back into the matter-generator to be melted down into that robot unicorn I need for the commute home. Or to ride to the bar now. Join me!
Thanks for listening. Bye!

Amazing unicorn image by Quix Maiquez

Saturday, 16 January 2010

NYC Sketchbook: Pages 1 & 2

Here's a couple pages from my latest sketchbook, a wonky improv tale of a troubled individual and the tiny Space Jesuit that looks after him.

Drawn while traveling around NYC over the Christmas & New Year. (Happy New Year everyone!)

I'll post some more soon..

Monday, 21 December 2009

Dear The Internet, Merry Christmas!

Have a great holiday everyone. It's been a crazy year, but lots of fun and learning a-plenty. Hopefully next year I'll have some time to put it into practice!

I'm off to New York for a while, but will be doing an end-of-year round-up of some stuff when I'm reunited with my Wacom pen...

Friday, 18 December 2009

Trophy Monkey

I did a bit of designing in the third dimension recently, as I had the huge privilege to design this years re-skinning of the Vector Monkey trophy for Spike TV's annual VGA Awards (the Video Game Awards er.. Awards). Because we (as in Media Molecule, my LittleBigPlanet-making pals) won the award last year for Best Team, Spike TV thought it would fun if we designed this years trophy, so I got busy with the neon paint.

I wanted it to fully embody our Media Molecule way of reusing and re-appropriating found materials, so I came up with a design that changes the content of the statue without changing the physical shape. So, instead of the monkeys face being straight-on, he's looking upwards and crunching on the crown with his bitey maw. OH NOM NOM NOM he later commented.

Here's Jack Black waving one around (which apparently I'm told he broke later, the butterfingered rascal) and Jake Gyllenhaaaal staring at one, wondering what the hell he's looking at.

As it's now become a new tradition for the winner of the Best Team category to design next years trophy I can't wait to see what Rocksteady design. Especially after having my socks and spats blown off by their tremendous Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Monday, 2 November 2009

City of Game

(Original photo by TigersHungry, new characters revealed by Photoshop)

Last week I made my first visit to Gamecity, up in Nottingham, a festival of games, talking, and education, and good it was too. I had been invited to talk on a panel with Robin Hunicke (of the always-inspiring ThatGameCompany, creators of Flower & Flow) and Dr Barbara Lippe (visual goddess behind the fascinating, and completely unique Massively-Multiplayer Online game Papermint). Where we talked about some of our influences, (I talked about SchoolDaze a favourite game of mine from the Sinclair Spectrum) ways of working, highs and lows, and took questions from the audience.

Having met up with my old pal Jon Burgerman for lunch I was able to drag him onto the next panel with me as well, which led to lots of rude jokes on stage and a impromptu session of game-designer Chinese Whispers. A particularly strange experience, as we were doing this with Masaya Matsuura (creator of Parappa the Rapper and Vib Ribbon) Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy) and Adam "Atomic" (creator of my current gaming obsession Canabalt ).

Other highlights included too much curry, playing the games in the indiecade including the epic projector games, meeting up with some great folk, and being introduced to 1-up Megazine by its creator, truly one of the most beautiful videogame magazines I've seen.

And this:

Thursday, 1 October 2009


While my mac is having its motherboard replaced, after burning out just after the warranty ran out (Thanks Apple) and I'm having no luck installing Cs3 onto a temporary machine due to its crazy DRM which won't let me run the software I paid a fortune for (Thanks Adobe) I've been looking around at what online creative tools there are to see if anything can help my predicament. Aviary looks like a real technological marvel and I'll probably try that for a while.

But, the big news is Odosketch. I love it. In many ways there isn't much to it, but that's the point, it's the way it forces restrictions on you. There's no eraser, limited colours, and you can't change the size of the drawing tools. Just like real life. It's exactly like when you're sitting on the train and you have to doodle in the margin of a discarded newspaper with an old biro because that's all you have. And of course that's also when you can do your best doodling.

Here's a couple I did earlier:

Full size versions here and here

Monday, 7 September 2009

Playful 09

Playful is a great event full of people talking about interesting technology used with playful applications. It's right up my street. So it was nice to be asked to do the branding duties for this years event. Here's some of what I've been doing for them (using the lovely stuff that Poke did for last years event as a jumping off point).

You can see more on the official Playful web home here. Maybe you'd even like to score a brace of tickets while you're there too.

I'll also be speaking at this years event, so would be grand if a few folk turn up to see. I'll probably natter about some LittleBigPlanet related stuff, like about avatars and customisation and remix culture. Or maybe I'll just draw a cock on a flip-chart. We shall see soon enough.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Fngz Of Fury

Yikes. So busy. Can't complain though - but it has been a month since I updated on here so I'm going to try and start hacking through the backlog. So first up is this the Fngrz of Fury web game I made for Orange with my pals at Poke London and Player3.

The game stars the two guys from the Orange cinema ads (Which are actually really good. The Steven Segal one is my favourite) fighting past a number of characters with the power of texting. So the faster you can type the better you do. A bit like Typing of The Dead from back in the day, except with no shooting, and no zombies. But featuring deadly udders squirting corrosive bad juice.

This was a fun one, as I could really concentrate on the character design and animation (just as well as I had only a few short days to do it). Here's some of the characters, combined together into what we technically call a jpg:

And you can play it now here. I still really struggle to beat the giant hamster. See if you can...

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Letting The Beatles Be

I got asked recently to take part in a fun project - redesign or reinterpret the cover of any album from the top 100 albums of all time (as chosen by Pitchfork) for the folk at Becks Beer.

So I leapt on "Let it Be" by The Beatles (well, actually I leapt on Purple Rain, but Kate Moross had already picked that one, so I swapped pvc and superbikes for coudroy and facial hair). I've written up in more detail on Becks' Flickr page my thoughts behind choosing this cover, mainly for the challenge of creating a likeness of the band while also sticking with my bold style, so you can read more about it in detail there.

But here's the image:

And here's some work-in-progress, as you can see from the Ringo sketch I was originally thinking of using a more realistic style, closer to brilliant artwork they used themselves on Revolver (by Klaus Voormann) before switching back to a bolder simpler style so I could concentrate on getting likenesses with as little extraneous detail as possible.

And in Beatles related news, there's a new trailer out for the forthcoming Beatles Rock-Band game, which, although I have not interest in actually playing, looks amazing in the Sgt Pepper segment at about 1:00 in. I want to see more games that use colour, lighting and post-effects like that more. Down with polycounts! Up with art direction!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Guybrush Threepwood

One of my favourite games from childhood, Monkey Island, is getting a re-release next week, all smartened up for the HD generation. Personally i'm not a fan of the new HD visuals, probably because I grew up with the old version, I'm a big fan of pixelly retro-ness and the youngsters shouldn't listen to old salty dogs like me.

But in the meantime I couldn't resist a sketch of the games sometime-hero Guybrush Threepwood as he exists in my world of doodles and piratey memories:

Monday, 6 July 2009

Grip Wrench gets an outing in Brighton.

My MTV animated series Grip Wrench is going to be screening at the Loop Festival in Brighton this Sunday from 1:00pm (in the Pavilion theatre), thanks to the lovely folk at onedotzero. I'll be there. Hopefully you'll be there. Although please remember, you won't be able to un-see what you see.

In the meantime here's a photo of Mr Wrench's last trip to the seaside, a happy day of sun, speedboats and exploding flamingo corpses. Hopefully he'll be able to outdo himself this time with a KissMeQuick hat, a donkey and a three gallons of melted ice-cream.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Fresh Smack

Feeling like jumping around to some electro bouncy noise, while staring at visuals from another world and fending off a man with a marker pen that's drawing a donkey skull on your arm? Well, you're in luck - all these things and more can become reality next friday in south London.

Noises will come from the decks of Merf, Brother, Superstar PJ and Forward-Thinking Tam and live performance by Super Soul Soldiers, and I'll be there to do my usual drawings on anyone brave enough to have a go.

Hope to see you there, you brave fools. Here's the poster: