This is the blog of Thomas Schmall. If you like the artworks you see,
you can buy originals and prints in the shop, or hire my services.


Drew Life Once Again

Posted on September 17, 2014 by Thomas | Artworks | Tags: , |

Been a loong time since I last joined life drawings sessions. Joeri Lefévre is organizing them now in Amsterdam at the Atelier Westerdok - with the idea to give it a bit more variation than usual.

More props, different light setups – more alternation in models and costumes than the common studios have here. So feel free to join – every Thursday evening at 8 o’clock (for these first weeks we’re starting at 7:30).

Life Drawing - Girl with sword

Life Drawing - girl with two swords

Life Drawing - Guy leaning

Life Drawing - Man sitting


Triple A Game Covers… Notice Anything?

Posted on September 2, 2014 by Thomas | Games | Tags: , |

Here is a collection of covers for top-selling action games of the last couple years. Did I miss some secret meeting?

It’s not a random selection of course – but pretty close to representative, as easily two thirds of all action game titles with some subtitle/version fit the pattern of worn flat white text and red version letters. It’s not exhaustive either, just the popular games I could think of right now.
If anyone has insight (maybe as cover creators themselves), I would be curious to hear it. My bet is that Metal Gear Solid 2 which started it… and it’s also taking twist on version 4.

I noticed this when watching the latest installment of Feminist Frequency.
This detail has quite some parallels with the violence against woman tropes in games. There the question is a moral one “do I want to create and consume games that stereotype other people”. But it’s also one about quality and diversity. Is there something superior about flat white text with little cracks on it, that so many games have to use it? Does it not make the whole bunch look uncreative? Also, I would think in both cases (tropes about woman – and covers) it’s no intentional plot or secret agreement. It is driven by subconscious group-think, by lazy copying – and by the fear of the industry and gamers to change working formulas. A bit like Skinner’s experiment with superstitious pigeons – that do a one legged dance just because they happened to do it once when food was given to them.
There is a harmful automatism and lack of thoughtfulness in game art creation. It works so why stop?

Medieval Characters – It’s been Grim Times

Posted on August 28, 2014 by Thomas | Artworks | Tags: , , , , |

Two more relatively quick artworks meant as dialog backgrounds of the fantasy game I posted some medieval maps and model sheets about before.
They don’t welcome folks like you around there!

Medieval Gate Keeper

Towns Guard

Medieval Trades-man

A trader of mysterious items.

The NXT Train Stops For No One!

Posted on August 13, 2014 by Thomas | Artworks | Tags: , , |

Another little animation I recently finished:

Nxt Train Animation

The nxt train never stops!

Ok, ok, the topic for this animation is a bit… eh… specific (NXT doubling Peercoin’s market cap). But I’m still learning, so I thought it doesn’t matter. I liked the materials that I could use in this one. Didn’t expect it ending up in sooo much work.

I have to simplify more. And would be curious about critique – especially input on how to get the flying tiles to work better.
Anyways was fun – slowly getting the hang of a good animation workflow. But I have to get faster.

Inking from Memory

Posted on August 9, 2014 by Thomas | Artworks | Tags: , , |

Recently I’m drawing more from memory than from reference. It’s an interesting exercise to pull those images out of the mind – they’re in there, but resisting.

Strangely – one can always see when it went wrong. Here are some of the better ones: A drawing from an event some months earlier, and some animals.

Bonfire drawing

Little get-together at the bonfire.

Dog drawings.

A couple of dogs

Animals from Memory.

Various animals from memory. Not showing the Iguana here, failed even after two weeks trying.

Animated Cursors and Subliminal Links

Posted on July 31, 2014 by Thomas | Discoveries | Tags: , , |

I did some windows cursor animations long long ago. Still love them after looking at them for 15 years – very relaxing, so if you’re up for a change, download them and check them out…. together with some link fun.

They cursors are easy to use: Just save the ani files, and change to them in your mouse settings. Here are up-scaled previews:


Relaxing Water - Mouse Cursor
This one is thought of as standard arrow. Careful, you might just watch the cursor all day!
Download the cursor here.



Relaxing Water - Mouse Cursor
A little working ant, fitting for “working in the background” arrow.
Download the cursor here. !


Some links as promised. First off the video analysis of Space Oddysey 2001 by Rob Ager. Stanley Kubrick apparently thought very deep about every scene – to the most minute details. Putting subliminal messages here and there – kinda mind blowing, especially the hidden IBM logos are stunning.
Should be a good lesson to artists, and how they can work with symbols – then again, Kubrick borrowed a lot himself from artists like Magritte.


Kubrick is not the only one good at hiding warnings for society in symbols. Studio Ghibli’s mastermind Hayao Miyazaki for example created the animation movie “Spirited Away” as a subliminal tale about children in today’s sexualized society.

Spirited Away Movie

The ghost keeps offering money to Chihiro.

Anyways, I’ll round this all up by destroying your eyesight forever.

Even Sinful Medieval Towns need Maps

Posted on July 25, 2014 by Thomas | Artworks | Tags: , , , , |

Two more artworks for a cancelled game playing in medieval times.

I already showed two character model sheets of “Quest’n’Goblins” earlier. Here is a little towns map – I tried to give it a medieval style by making a pencil version of it (tracing it on top of the monitor… good for your arm muscles).
The latter artwork is a scene from inside one of the infamous taverns of the village.

Medieval Town Map

The town’s map.

Tavern Inn Keeper

It’s a pretty rotten place.

Lith – a Cryptocurrency Game Logo

Posted on June 24, 2014 by Thomas | Games | Tags: , , , , |

I don’t even know how to write an easily understandable headline, this is quite new territory. I’m excited to show the logo I’ve made for Lith, a Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Game that will be based on a Cryptocurrency – which is a mouthful anyway you put it! And that’s just the start.

The gameplay of Lith will be heavily based on an in-game economy – basically having it’s own currency and allowing players to trade freely. Behind that stands the cryptocoin NXT, a kind of modernized Bitcoin. So at the end it will mean there is real value behind your actions.

Now add to that their unique funding: They use the NXT asset exchange to allow anyone to buy shares of the developer called D.O.R.C.S. – so if you think this sounds great, you can put money into it. Compared to a simple Kickstarter though, it will give you a share of the earnings if it will become a real success. I mean, not like with Occulus Rift, where fans funded it with two million dollar, and some weeks later the creator just shipped it off to Facebook and stuffed two billion bucks under his mattress.

Now, let’s not forgot about the logo!

You can read more on the idea on the NXT-forum, and support them if you think this is a great idea. You can see the DORCS asset online too.

Check out two screenshots and little video of a very early prototype below.

Lith Prototype Forest Lith Prototype Forest



Photoshop Animating Is Fun!

Posted on June 5, 2014 by Thomas | Artworks | Tags: , , , |

For a looooong time I wanted to try a bit of animation work. Doing my first steps here – learning how to go about it in Photoshop. By now that program is actually becoming quite good for animating.

Luckily I could connect the fun stuff with the useful, since Caromble needed some animations for effects. For example when objects are hit:

hit particle

A small hit.

And of course every game needs explosions. This animation will be played in an particle – so will be mixed and then combined with some more sparks and smoke particles.

particle explosion

Animation of a full blown explosion.

You can check out a screenshot of the explosion animation in Caromble. And find a bit more at my Caromble.com post about particles

If you want to give it a shot yourself, I can really recommend Alex Grigg’s Animation Tutorial. He did for example the absolutely fantastic “Phantom Limb” short movie in Photoshop. Another useful tool is AnimDessin2, which adds buttons to Photoshop, that will speed up the workflow.



And here a different simple animation. It’s really fun – so more to come.

NXT marriage

Don’t miss the nxt train!

Female Hero Model Sheet

Posted on May 28, 2014 by Thomas | Artworks | Tags: , , , , , |

Since I posted the male model sheet earlier, I have to follow up with the female one.

Female hero model sheet.

First the final outcome in color. There is not much clothing and weapons – since this was supposed to by dynamic in the game, depending on what items you collect.

Heroine Pencil Sketches

And here are some early pencil sketches, starting with offering different designs.

Heroine design pencil sketch

And then detailing the chosen one.

And here a bonus character artwork:

Mysterious character Portrait

Mysterious! Who is it? Will we ever find out? … well no, the game was cancelled.

© 2003-2013 thomas schmall - see contacts.