JACOB DUANE

 

I’m a Bay Area local residing in beautiful Redwood City CA, with over 10 years of experience creating art for games, including 5 years of straight app development for children’s books and learning games.

My ambitions as an Artist extends to my hobbies; creating illustrations for stories, building fun games, and doing a bit of design consulting for indie developers.  All of the things I thinker around with is in an effort to expand my knowledge of trends and critical thinking – which in turn helps my professional vision.

Virtual Reality    

TechStart CS Experience

The TechStart Experience was created in collaboration with Facebook, while I was the Lead Artist for Layout Technologies INC. The VR experience was built in Unreal Engine 4 and optimized for viewing on the Samsung Gear VR. The project was an internal release – not meant for public consumption – for the education modernization initiative that Facebook was heading. This virtual reality project was created to inspire young students, and to provide them with a glimpse of what can be done with a Computer Science degree.

The video on the left is a full runthrough of the experience in monoscopic mode (non-VR).

We took around four months to develop the script and content for the short virtual reality demo.

The students participated in the experience with full excitement and enthusiasm – as this was their first time ever experiencing virtual reality.

The experience lasted just under 4 minutes – which was actually half the time we intially planned, so some cuts had to be made unfortunatly!

If you have problems viewing the video, you can download and view on your computer via this link: TechStartDemo

My major contributions involved the conceptual design for the environment, building out the 3d space with objects, animations, and effects to go along with the short script. Technical optimization of 3d assets was also a major part of my contribution. With the technical limitations of rendering virtual reality content on mobile devices, my expertise in the game industry allowed me to increase the performance while still providing a smooth experience for viewers.

Game Art & Design   

The Bedsby Tales

A scary kids game on the iPad, broken into episodes. This was a personal project of mine that I developed with a friend in Unity. We managed to reach over 25k downloads in less than a year with zero marketing. The project is still being developed in our spare time – episode 2 release is postponed until it’s perfect. I absolutly hate rushing software and game releases. I’m a perfectionist at heart, so I want to build the project when I can completly focus on the content and story design.

My role on this project was more Creative Director and Art Director than anything else. Setting the tone for the visuals, story design and interactions. I hired out the character model for Edwin – the main character – as well as some of the more complex animations that I didn’t have time to realize.

Most of the game was in black and white.  I wanted to give a good visual cue between the real world and the imaginary. Color will slowly creep into the dream world as the main character and player progress deeper into the story.

The concept design for The Bedsby Tales was based on some of my favorite movies like Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I love how dark Tim Burton’s films are without being inappropriate for children. Most of the inspiration for the game concept was taken from the Tales from the Crypt series on HBO when I was a young tike. The story design was broken into sections of poetry and small tales – from one of my most favorite books of all time, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Want to get in touch?

To inquire about Illustration or design work, please shoot me a message.

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Character Design

A couple early design concepts for Bedsby. These are apart of my visual development process so nothing is concrete at this stage, I’m more interested in ideas and inspiration. You can see some of my process below as well, in a more traditional phase.

The final Bedsby character looks more like the Grinch, but with more facial hair I suppose. I liked all of these ideas – I actually prefered the more human like versions because it gave him a bigger expressive face. Due to my actual budget for the project, I needed something a bit more simple, yet scary as well.

Koala Band

As the Lead Artist for Pluto Media – before it’s 2014 acquisition by Age of Learning Inc. – I was tasked with the majority of the conceptual design for new mini games, non-playable characters, environment art, character development, animation, user interface design, branding and marketing – for AppStore creatives, Facebook campaigns and promotional banners.

Following a standard game production cycle, I start with rough ideas to mold “story glimmers” that give way to things like character appeal, environment locations and even game design inspiration.

The game had four POI locations, nine minigames and housed synchronous and asynchronous multiplayer events – which were bi-weekly experiments to test new ideas and content design.

The Harbor was home to our flagship musical scrolling game – formerly called Pluto Learns Piano – where kids could collect notes while playing music with their friends. There was also a Simon Says type game called Watch the Birds – which taught basic sound and pattern recognition for more advanced music learning later on in the game.

Each location of the world had a series of Minigames that were housed within themed buildings. We designed every minigame to be played within two taps. Adding a main menu within each building allowed the kids to choose other options – like multiplayer or difficulty changes – before committing to play. Each game also had a custom help menu to assist kids dynamically when they got stuck.

You’ll notice some – if not all – of the menus are showing human characters within. These were mainly placeholder, since the world was originally designed to be a human world. Later we moved toward animal characters.

Character Design

Let's grab some coffee...

One of my favorite things to do is grab a sketchbook and head over to a random java place to get my mind down on paper!

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My character design process is very traditional.  I use pencil and paper as my starting point for shape identity and general visual language.  It may seem funny, but I like to say that at this stage I’m using “The Force” to guide me. 😉

After I have a handful of sketches, I take them into Photoshop to define more of the outline and actions of the character.  For the Koala Band principal character, I actually drew pages and pages of nothing but koalas from real life.  I believe it’s important to know the general essence of a character – whether it be a humanoid or animal – before stylizing it’s attributes.

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In a Nutshell...

I’m a goofy husband, illustrator and storyteller based out of Redwood City CA.

Experience:  Layout Technologies, Facebook, Pluto Media Inc, Dark Comet Games, Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, Retro Studios, Nintendo

Education:  Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Design at The Art Institute of Phoenix 2002-2005

Specialties: Illustration, Character Design, Game Art, Low/High 3d Modeling

Skills:  Digital Painting, Illustration, Storyboarding, Visual Development, Virtual Reality, PBR, Creative Writing for Children, 3d Layout

Ambitions:  Plein Air, Portrait Painting, Book Design

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