Category Archives: Research

John Blanche

Looking at Ashley Wood’s portfolio reminded me of an artist whom I practically grew up with through my Warhammer years, John Blanch.

jb 2

Whilst his style is not quite the same as Wood’s (varying from very rough and messy to almost too neat in it’s shapes) his use of colour is very similar.

jb 1

Similar to Ashley Wood, John Blanche likes to fill in most of the image with orange/sepia tones. He then uses bolder colours (red, black, and white being his favourites) to pick out details in the characters present and draw attention to them. I think I will find this a very useful technique in my final images (especially if I go with my idea of conflicting elements, which will be discussed later) and will really help to make them ‘pop’.

jb 3

Exploring the Inspiration Further

To conclude my initial visual research, I decided to branch out from the 3 main sources of inspiration given in the brief. I stuck within the parameters of the styles suggested but looked into other, similar, works to see how that style has evolved and can evolve.

I explored the works of the main artists who worked on Dota 2 to get a sense of their individual subsets of that iconic style which I might explore in my work. I also explored other works which used stylised and cartoony styles for similar reasons, focusing mostly on video games such as WoW, Darksiders, and Rayman but also looking into comics and other medias.

5- dota artists

[Above: Other Work by the artists behind Dota 2]

6- similar styles

[Above: Art featuring styles similar to those of the main sources of inspiration]

More Visual Research!


Combined my previous visual research into one moodboard. I’m starting to get a sense of the style I will be using now, but I am going to make a few more, expanding my search criteria, to help work out the kinks.

Visual Research and Moodboards

Having chosen the brief Concept Design 2, Characters for Games I have set about assembling a visual database of inspiration to base my work off of.

The brief states that the lead inspirations should be:

  • Bob Rafei (specifically his work on the Jac n Daxter series),
  • Dota 2 (specifically it’s “twisted-but-humorous character designs“),
  • Ashley Wood (focusing more on his general style rather than a specific project of his).

The wording of the brief suggests that Ashley Wood’s work should only be a vague inspiration, and used to shape the structure of the style rather than as a starting point. Indeed they refer to him as a “wildcardIt also suggests that Bob Rafei’s work may be a bit too cartoony and should be toned back a bit. So whilst it should have a large impact on the style, it seems that Dota 2 will be the defining inspiration for the final style and design.

For Bob Rafei’s work I focused mostly on his work on the Jac n Daxter series as the brief suggests, although I did look at his work on other games too to get a full sense of his style. His work in the later games is a large part of this visual research as I feel it is the least cartoony and just generally and improvement from his earlier work.

jac and daxter

Being my main choice of inspiration, I am going to be focusing a lot on Dota 2’s style. However, it seems difficult to find a lot of their work online. For the most part any official work is fully finished concept art, whereas I am more interested in their processes towards these pieces. There’s also a lot of fan art to avoid. What I have found is a good start but I intend to research more into the artists on the team and try and find their work, rather than looking at the game materials themselves.

Ashely Wood’s work is instead a wildcard. His work is unlike that of Bob Rafei or Dota 2 in that it is a lot less cartoony, although it is not realistic either. Looking through his portfolio I decided to focus on his work for the comic books Spawn due to it’s similarity to Dota and Rafei. It is a lot darker and dirtier but there are similarities in shapes and silhouettes, further more there are a lot less open legged women or butts which seem to be a favourite in his other works, and which are not really fitting with what the brief demands.

ashley wood

I think what I will take from Wood’s work most is his brush work, as I believe the roughness of it would work nicely juxtaposed with any cartoon-styled silhouettes inspired by Dota and Rafei.