Original Wing Commander Artist Here.

Discussion in 'General Wing Commander Chat' started by Denis Loubet, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. Denis Loubet

    Denis Loubet Space Marshal

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    I hope this is the right forum in which to post this.
    I'm Denis Loubet, and I did most of the art for the original Wing Commander. Glen Johnson did the character faces, and I did the cockpits, backgrounds, and scramble animations. Also the explosions and debris. Plus I assembled and touched up the cover, which as everyone guessed, was not a simple screenshot.

    Currently I'm trying to work directly for my fans through Patreon and Drawmycharacter. Right now my audience consists mostly of Ultima fans, but I'm curious as to how much the Wing Commander community likes my work on the early games as opposed to the Hollywood productions of WCIII and IV.

    I'm here to answer any questions you might have about the early days of Wing Commander from the artists perspective, and would love to hear your critiques both positive and negative of the work I did for it.

    I feel I should include at least one picture in this post, so here's a Star Wars character drawing I did for a Drawmycharacter customer:

    Argh. Can't post a link until I have 10 posts. Imagine cool Star Wars picture here.

    Most of my drawings are fantasy based, because most of my fans are Ultima fans. But if I get some Wing Commander patrons, I can do more science fiction based art!

    If you want to see a bunch of art, please visit my website. There are seemingly endless galleries of my stuff.

    Enjoy! (Again, I can't post links until I have 10 posts. Sigh.) Do a Google search for Denis Loubet, and my site should be at the top. Search Patreon for my name. And Drawmycharacter is a page on my site.
     
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  2. AD

    AD Finder of things, Doer of stuff

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    Hi Denis! I have to say I really love the look of the early WC games. While I do like the FMV era stuff, I think a bit of something was lost too in the transition. Mark Hamill was pretty great as Blair, it's just different. I would have to think a bit about critiques but that will have to wait till later. One question though: Several people have noticed similarities between some characters and other celebrities/people. Did you have specific people/friends/colleagues in mind when designing the characters originally?
     
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  3. Klavs81

    Klavs81 Rear Admiral

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    Hi Denis, big fan of the WC1, WC2 art style. There's a lot of interest in the ships from this era! Great to see you on the forums!

    A number of us have re-jiggered a number of classic designs in our own way, suffice it to say your work is still inspiring many, many years later!

    Shameless plug for my ship designs here:

    Looking forward to seeing more of your stuff!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2018
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  4. Bandit LOAF

    Bandit LOAF Long Live the Confederation!

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    Here's Denis' Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/denisloubet

    Denis, if you're interested I'm putting together a video retrospective on Wing Commander I and would love to interview you!
     
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  5. Whistler

    Whistler Commodore

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    Get the man his Origin medal!:D
     
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  6. Denis Loubet

    Denis Loubet Space Marshal

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    Thanks for the kind words! :)

    Yeah AD, I recall some of the characters in WC 1 were based on real actors, but it's also possible that with Glenn Johnson doing the art they were as likely to be based on anime characters! Sorry I can't remember any specifics as to who was who, but if I come across any old memories I'll let you guys know!

    Klavs81, In WC1 we outsourced the ship models, and rendering, to a third party. The renders we got needed a lot of touching up, which I did in DeluxePaint, so I basically touched the pixels of every ship frame. For WC2, I learned enough 3D Studio DOS fast enough to do some ship modeling and rendering. Still had to manually touch up frames though. :confused: And OMG, I wish we had the tools and rendering power then to match your awesome ships!:D Those are beautiful!

    Bandit LOAF, I would be happy to be debriefed by you! ;) You can find my contact information on my website which is 3Ws, myname, com . Remember, one n in Denis.

    Whistler, I can't remember if I did the medals or not. If you show me a screen cap, I can tell you if they're mine! ;) (So, what's the Origin Medal?)

    Thanks again guys! :D Keep the questions coming.
     
  7. -danr-

    -danr- Rear Admiral

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    Great to see you here Denis, between us all, we've spent thousands of hours in your cockpits.

    Did you know your name makes a cameo in WC2 as a gunnery officer?

    Also, a quick question if I may - something that I've always wondered about. In the original Wing Commander cockpits, there's a small light-up display (just like the autopilot light) that says "TAPE" - you can see it the Amiga screenshot below, just above the left hand VDU. Have you any idea what it's there for? Unlike the AUTO light on the other VDU, the TAPE light never comes on. I've often wondered if perhaps there were plans for the player to make short in-flight recordings and play them back later, but maybe this didn't make it past the design stage. Have you any idea what it means? Strange question I know.


    Thanks for everything. I too love the early Wing Commander artwork.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. quaker2k8

    quaker2k8 Commodore

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    If

    1) there are 1000 oldschool WC fans today that became fans after the 90ies era because they missed it then or were too young (a very modest assumption)

    and

    2) Enthusiasm with space shooters/sims stays about the same over the decades (realistic)

    and

    3) Humankinds's total population doubles every 30 years (VERY modest assumption, if we manage to go to the stars and not eradicate ourselfes)

    and

    4) Everything HERE will stay forever (I bet so, given the people in charge's mission)

    then

    -In the year 2615 there will be more than a BILLION fans reading Denis Loubet's posts here, and they will be very impressed by an original developer sharing his memories and wisdom with the community. Outstanding, remarkable! Love this place.

    Please correct me if my reasoning is flawed, I'm not a logics ace but the argument seems aleight to me.
     
  9. capi3101

    capi3101 Rear Admiral

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    Hey Denis, I've actually been meaning to contact you since mid-December. I'm definitely a fan of the WC1/WC2 style; I've even used some of it in the interior of my RPG Core Rules and on the covers of two of the modules. Were the original line art ship designs also yours? Their presence in Claw Marks were what really hooked me into the original game and sparked off my fandom of the series.

    Been thinking awful hard about hiring you on to the do the cover art for Elegy, and maybe some of the Demon's Eye Pack characters in the campaign. I'd probably have to do a Kickstarter to pay for it, though...
     
  10. LeHah

    LeHah 212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"

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    Thanks for stopping by, Denis!

    Do you happen to remember any of the instructions or ideas given to you about the "look" of WC? That is to say, sometimes you'll hand in a sketch and they'll say "thats good but we want it more like..."

    I'm interested in the artist's original concepts and how it eventually evolved into the end result :)
     
  11. Whistler

    Whistler Commodore

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    Oh that is a forum medal all former Origin employees get around here once confirmed they are whom they say they are.;) Drives up your point count that posting here will no longer present the Spaceman restrictions. Chris Reid or another staffer will probably handle that soon.

    As to questions, I'm still trying to dream up WHAT my question(s) might be. Not every day we get an Origin vet swinging through so I gotta make it good.

    I will start off by saying that the fighter designs hooked me the first day I rented WC1 on the SNES from Blockbuster Video (remember those?). Enough that I thirsted for the PC version shortly after, with the promised deeper art and music assets. All the pretty colors...and the SOUND! I have not in my 34 years ever had a game from the IBM-clone days (I was using a Packard "Hell" then) grab me as profoundly as Wing Commander. The one game series where I've truly lost count of how many times I've replayed them. Every...single...one. :cool:
     
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  12. Denis Loubet

    Denis Loubet Space Marshal

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    Awesome! Lots to catch up on here! I didn't expect things to be so lively! :D

    Let's see... Danr, The cockpits were fun to do. They were done in DeluxePaint with a lot of dithered gradients. Everything on the screen had to exist within 256 colors. I can't remember if I did them on a PC or an Apple IIgs. I suspect it was a PC. I did not know my name was used as a gunnery officer! I have learned something new today! :) Since all the readable text in the cockpits was actually functional, I think that you're right. I actually thought you could record your mission, is that not so? Maybe it only works in the PC version? :confused: And yes, the asteroids were hand drawn.

    Quaker2k8, This is great news! All I have to do is wait until 2615 and my Patreon should be ROCKIN'! I'll be Rich! ;) I'll settle for those thousand oldschool fans!

    Capi3101, actually the ship designs were done by someone else. I'm not actually sure who! The Images of the ships just sort of appeared from the 3rd party that Chris had hired to do the rendering. Knowing Chris, I'm sure he had a heavy hand in the design. And I can certainly do covers and character illustrations, so break out that Kickstarter, man! ;)

    LeHah, strangely I don't remember that much direction coming down from on high, which is unusual for Mr. Roberts. ;) I think the art team just clicked from the start, and was putting out what he liked. I remember making sure the cockpits of the fighters were tight, and the cockpits of the bigger ships more roomy. Chris must have told me what he wanted the Kilrathi to look like, but I don't remember that talk. I know he insisted on tumbling debris, and wanted that Battlestar Galactica style fighter launch sequence. We also had to pack a lot of stuff in the rec room, and I know we had discussions about the doors and layout of the locker room.

    To answer a previous question: Looking at the characters in WC 1 and 2, I think we were going mostly for familiar stereotypes found in WWII movies, rather than specific actors. But looking at some of the portraits in WC2, the girl with the black hair has to be consciously modeled after Bettie Page! And I think paladin is Sean Connery. I'm sure Clint Eastwood was in there too. :rolleyes:

    I didn't do any of the human portraits, but I did do the Kilrathi cutscenes, hence my avatar pic. They were fun to do.

    Sorry my memory isn't better on all these issues, but I did SO much at Origin over the 10 years I worked there, and it was so long ago! :eek: But I'll do my best! :D

    Edit -- And Whistler sneaks in a post while I'm typing mine! ;) Ah, I'll look forward to the lack of restrictions!

    And thanks again all for making me blush!

    --Denis
     
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  13. -danr-

    -danr- Rear Admiral

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    Thanks for the answer! No the option to record for instant replay wasn't implemented on the PC either, but it did turn up in WC2 :) I only used that screenshot as it was the first one that showed up in Google images.

    ...and yes, many of the Origin crew make cameos in Wing Commander. Off the top of my head we hear about "Colonel Roberts", as well as a wingman called Ladyman, as well as Shelton, Cafrelli, Haley, and many more. There's also a reference to the Terran ship "TCS Winterrowd".

    Also, in Wing Commander 2: Special Operations, Angel says:

    "I will be your Chief Gunnery Officer for this mission, along with Loubet and Miller. "

    ...so the player actually gets to fly with you on board. Loubet sits in the back of a Broadsword bomber and mans one of the turrets :)
     
  14. LeHah

    LeHah 212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"

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    Denis, do you remember anything about the making of the scramble animation? The running obviously rotoscoped, do you remember who the "models" were or anything about making it?
     
  15. Jdawg

    Jdawg 2nd Lieutenant

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    welcome my question is did you have a hand in the take off and landing animations for wc2, those are some of my fav animations ever in any videogame period.
     
  16. Bandit LOAF

    Bandit LOAF Long Live the Confederation!

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    I missed the original question, so I just wanted to say: I MUCH prefer the look of the original games and especially Wing Commander I. It was the art style of Wing Commander that first drew me into the game all those years ago, and I don’t think any game (ever) has equaled it in terms of just sheer… atmosphere, I guess!

    This was for an ‘action replay’ feature which was in the plans but did not make it into the finished game. It IS in Wing Commander II, though I think it never really lived up to the original idea.

    The ships were rendered by a company called Process Animation in New York City. A woman named Mary Bellis did all of the rendering on an Amiga! (I am NOT clear on who did the concept art, though; I believe Chris commissioned the line art you see in Claw Marks for Mary to work from, but I am not 100% sure.)
     
  17. Mekt-Hakkikt

    Mekt-Hakkikt Mpanty's bane

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    Let me chime in and say that I absolutely love the WC 1 and 2 art and especially the Kilrathi designs! I love how colourful everything is without being silly. The cockpits are still the best I have ever seen. Functional, unique and cool looking. Really great of you to stop by and thank you for your great work.
     
  18. Dundradal

    Dundradal Frog Blast the Vent Core!

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    Welcome Denis! It's always good to see a friendly ship!

    It doesn't take long for the Wingnuts to scramble once they know there's a good thread started! :D

    Done!
     
  19. Denis Loubet

    Denis Loubet Space Marshal

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    -danr- I must have known some of this at the time, but it's lost to my current memory. But the TAPE light makes sense now. Was there actually a TAPE light in the WC1 cockpits? If so, then they simply couldn't make it work by the time they had to ship the game. :(

    LeHah Yeah! I really liked the scramble animation! They shot some guys on a treadmill, and gave me the images to rotoscope from. I kept it simple and silhouette-like in order to keep the memory requirements low. I created the background as a series of tileable panels that could be randomly assembled into a background corridor. All the programmers had to do was slowly pan the randomly created corridor, and superimpose random running-character spot-animations. Add flashing lights and a klaxon, and you're good to go! :) I was big on using multiplane effects to create depth.

    Jdawg Things get kind of complicated at this point. I did the ship launch sequence for WC1, and the return battle damage. And although I did the tech that's behind the ship for the canopy closing, I didn't do the tech that stands in front of the ship welcoming the pilot back. That was Glen Johnson. I did the Battlestar Galactica launch tube effect with a series of multiplane background images, and I did the carrier-launch deckhand silhouette after watching a lot of old WWII footage of carrier launches.
    Bear in mind I'm using google image searches to refresh my memory here. Is your avatar image from WC1 or WC2? Because I worked on the stuff that was strictly side-view. I'm seeing images of ships with battle damage in three quarter view on google, and those I didn't do.

    Bandit LOAF Damn dude! You've done your research! :D Thanks for jogging my memory! I knew the ships had been rendered on an Amiga, but only had a vague impression that it was a woman who did the work. They turned out great! :)
    Yeah, the TAPE thing is slowly coming back to me. I think you and -danr- have it right.
    Speaking of atmosphere, I still like the hanger backgrounds I did for WC1. Those big hazy actinic light banks in the distant corners of the cavernous hanger just worked great for any spot animation you wanted to throw in front of them. (Yes, I'm unduly proud of those.) :rolleyes:

    Mekt-Hakkikt I was walking a fine line with the colors! The more different colors you have, the faster you eat up your 256 color limit with the different necessary shades of each color. That's why the backgrounds sometimes looked a little -- or a lot -- posterized. It's because the forground objects left only a few colors for the background.
    The cockpits were a lot of fun. I'd kind of zone-out when doing them, just layering dithered gradients and throwing in highlights and shadows. I tried to create a unique feel for each cockpit, some were very geometric, and others all curves. Some were rugged and thick, and others were thin and spindly. I think we even managed to have a side-mounted joystick in one of them. But they all had to display the same amount of information, so I moved all the items around to make each layout slightly different.

    Dundradal You aren't kidding, man! I'm getting a lot more engagement here than in the Ultima forums. (Oops, now I'm in trouble!) :rolleyes:

    Here's that Drawmycharacter piece I wanted to show you all:

    [​IMG]

    Enjoy! :D
     
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  20. Denis Loubet

    Denis Loubet Space Marshal

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