All posts by Joseph

Let’s Design (a Helmet)

I am in search of a helmet design for a guard character in a comic book I am working on. My personal design process for doing a character is to rough in some panels with a general action silhouette. This way we can get a feel for the spirit of a character in the story, which serves as the initial inspiration for the costume.


As you can see, we get a view of the front and the back of the guard’s head with these panels. This is useful, because I know I’ll need to understand the helmet’s structure in the round. Already I can see that he has some sort of face mask with big bunny ears or horns, his costume is dark and robe-like, and he is looking around alertly.  I’m imagining some sort of visored animal mask.

Let’s take this as an opportunity to learn from the classic famous master examples of visored animal helmets:


Continue reading Let’s Design (a Helmet)

Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, a dark legacy indeed

It started with an Angry Orchard Ale display stand at Sam’s Club, the old tree howled when I walked by, “Se-k t runestones a-d -ri-e Skorne frm is d-sol-te -a-d.” I had no clue most of the words meant, but the sound profile immediately awoke some dim part of my brain.


It was the voice of the yellow-robed wizard, Sumner of Gauntlet: Legends, and immediately after he spoke the tree made that spiraling sound you hear in the game when you get sucked into or out of a level.

My friend Justin perked up when I told him what happened in the store. “Damn, dude! Really?! I’ve got the Xbox version of Gauntlet at my house somewhere!”


We found it in a pile of dirty clothes and trash in his laundry room/basement area.

findsgame Continue reading Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, a dark legacy indeed

Halo 4: Tutorial Time

Previously, Joe Culp‘s Game Tours: Halo 4, Part 1 & Part 2

Starting off:

Environmental concept art is a type of developmental painting used in video game production as a way for painters to visualize the ideas of the creative team. If it weren’t for these great painters in the industry, then there would be no unified vision to lead the increasingly complex demands of modern level design. The production team would be doomed, dead in the water; their game would start looking cheesy and ill-designed. This would be all right if we were still in the 90s, or if a “generic fantasy anime” look was the goal, but we are dealing with 2013 AAA gaming! By now concept artists of all stripe have found an important and greatly romanticized role in the video game industry.

So, at the end of my last “game tour” of Halo 4 I said that I would take what I learned about the level design and reverse engineer some mock concept art out of it. What an absurd idea, concept art fan art! Really I just wanted to paint a laser floor.

Here is what I came up with (click for embiggening):

what I came up with Continue reading Halo 4: Tutorial Time


CATHARSIS: A Kunzelman Trip

I was very excited to hear about the impending Halloween release of “CATHARSIS,”  the latest “trip” from hard rock game designer Cameron Kunzelman.


So basically in ages past, a corrupt mage named Garm used a set of Runestones to summon a demon named Skorne. However, Skorne crushed Garm and imprisoned his soul in the Underworld. Skorne, fearing the power of the Runestones, scattered them throughout the four realms, so that they could never be used against him. So in comes Jeff, the cleanup guy. His job is simple: kill Skorne. The Runestones don’t matter.

Oh, and did I mention? Skorne comes with a roiling horde of demons. Continue reading C.A.T.H.A.R.S.I.S.

Game Tours: Halo 4 (Part 1)

Joe Culp's Game Tours: Halo 4So the other day my girlfriend was at Sam’s Club and bought Halo 4. I thought it’d make for a great game tour, ’cause I grew up with Halo. It’s an absolutely beautiful game, but I’m not sure what I think about it… I really wanted to like it. I tried to like it. Getting into Halo 4 was kind of like this:


Visual Tour: Donkey Kong Country

Tree Top Town Level Sketch
Tree Top Town sketch by Joseph Culp

Donkey Kong Country. Everything about it—the flowing gameplay, the strangely appropriate music, the 3D-rendered style of the characters, and the world maps combined to create an experience that hasn’t really been seen before or since, tied together by the amazing environments that DK and Diddy blasted through on their quest for the stolen banana horde. In this post I’m going to discuss the design of some of these levels and try to identify a few of the factors that made them so great. Continue reading Visual Tour: Donkey Kong Country

Saint Jiub the Eradicator of the Winged Menace

When we settle down to carve the turkey this Thanksgiving, we should take a moment to recall another bird that was carved in the Third Era, Year 431 of the Elder Scrolls, on the volcanic island of Vvardenfell. Ah yes, the dreaded Cliff Racer.

The repentant Dunmer Jiub set out to rid the land of this blighted menace, and did much to accomplish his noble aim.

In the end Jiub was led into a trap, and though he was assaulted by a murder of at least 76 Cliff Racers, proved victorious after two days of unrelenting battle. Vivec Himself bestowed sainthood upon Jiub, conferring upon him the title “Saint Jiub the Eradicator of the Winged Menace.”

I say we should remember the Cliff Racer in all its horror as we sit down to feast tomorrow. When remembering these foul…birds, scourge upon the fair province of Morrowind, we can be truly thankful for the works of the great Saint Jiub.

Saint Jiub the Eradicator of the Winged Menace, by Joseph Culp


Joseph Culp remembers the annoyance of the Cliff Racer all too well.