My Creative Life

by Sledgehammer Games

Drawing. It's at the very heart of my passion and my sense of being. It's what I do and what I can't turn off, slow down or even fully understand, but something for which I am so grateful.

My journey as an artist has been a long, exciting ride full of both personal and professional satisfaction. Deadlines, obligation, rejection, and failure are no strangers to me, but neither are freedom, passion, encouragement and success. I know how it feels to be art directed, to go to art school, to live as an artist. I understand and speak artists' language, and have known the overwhelming and rewarding experience of seeing my own work improve and grow. These days, my canvases are not mine alone; they require hundreds of designers and artists with fresh, revolutionary ideas that often surpass my own. Video games have become my art, and my passion as well.

But where did it all start? Why do I draw? I draw because I’m a creature of habit, and have been taking a blank page, canvas, whatever, and transforming it into something new my entire life, since I was about 3 or 4. For me, it's practice. Like any sport or craft, you need to practice the basics all the time. With muscle memory, comes knowledge. When you create a drawing, you are making tens, sometimes hundreds of decisions about how to move your hands and where, how much to plan and how much to improvise, the layout, composition, and cropping. Not to mention the hours of intensive research and studying of the subject before you even get to the actual drawing and inking part.

Most people just see me during the actual inking phase, where I often use both hands and move at high speeds. But behind the scenes is where much of the legwork is done. Inking my black-and-whites is something I look forward to every day. I'm usually working on six to ten pieces at a time. I'll move off of one and on to another. But each one demands a different thought process and different ways of looking at light, perspective, negative space, contours, and facial structures. After drawing a couple thousand faces in my lifetime (and roughly twice as many hands), I’ve gained a confidence that allows for more comfort in experimenting and trying new techniques. I practice and experiment with these aspects of composition, light, and shape on my own and can then apply my learnings to gamemaking.

Another extremely important aspect of drawing and painting for me is the time I get alone to think about various creative problems and how to solve them. I'll do quick google searches while drawing and write down thoughts and ideas. I always know there will be time for me to think freely and openly when I'm drawing and painting. It's my way of meditating or at least slowing down to just think. I love and cherish this alone time.

Drawing and painting has helped me see the world differently. A majestic sunset I witness in San Francisco could very well make its way into our game. Someone shopping in the mall might inspire me. I'll take 2000 photos before I find the right one to draw. Movies, music, and art find their way into my thoughts and manifest themselves in any number of ways.

Why do I draw? There are many reasons, but the main one is because it makes me a better creative leader and video game director. I am absolutely sure of that. My advice is if you draw, paint, write, dance, play music, or have any other creative passion, I encourage you to never stop. And if you have stopped, start again. You'll thank me.


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