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Vol. 2, Issue 9
January 24, 1999
Under Cover :

by Rowan "Sumaleth" Crawford

n the Under Cover article for Dhabih Eng in issue 2.4 of loonygames we mentioned Dhabih's Digital Art forum as being the in place to be if you're into digital art, beginner or advanced. As well as giving beginning artists a place to getting some feedback on their work-in-progress, and somewhere that professional artists can show some of their 'fun' stuff, the forum has proven to be excellent for at least one other thing.

Digging up old-school demoscene artists.

They're everywhere! And just when you think there can't be any more, up pops another one. And it's actually really fun finding out what these old-school artists early-to-mid 90's, whether they forged themselves a career in digital art, and if so, how far their art had progressed in the intervening years.

I remember that period well because that's when I started getting seriously interested in computer based 'graphics'. It was a lot different back then - technique was more important than the other aspects because, with only 16-32 colors available per image and a resolution of 320x200 or so, the viewer got to see every pixel on the screen and smooth shading was essentially impossible. Artists today have it so easy.

click to enlarge!

Joachim does Rambo. (14k).

So it was all in the technique, and learning the technique came down to carefully studying the images of those artists that had worked out how to get the best out of the limitations. There were little breakthroughs now and again which would suddenly see a whole new 'look' spread throughout the scene, but generally technique came down to being able to manually create sharp, clean anti-aliasing, and large areas of smooth shading using just a small range of colors and one of several dithering approaches.

One image that that I remember studying a lot was the cover image to issue 6 (if I remember correctly) of the leading disk-magazine at the time, RAW. The image in question was a caricature of Rambo that made good use of a variety of shading and anti-aliasing techniques to overcome the lack of colors available. The image was by demoscene artist, Joachim.

And guess who surfaced recently on Dhabih's digital art forum? (No points for guessing correctly but hit yourself if you guess wrong.) Yes, Joachim! (Too easy.)

Joachim now works at Innerloop, a game company working on a variety of titles for Eidos and Sega. Since the end of his demoscene career, soon after the release of his traditionally animated masterwork, Ninja, he has concentrated predominantly on Disney-style art, largely discarding the style that he was known for in his earlier scene days. So when he said that he was going to bow to peer pressure and try something in "full color, full detail", just like the good old days, for this issue of loonygames, I was dying to see what he would come up with.

And does the cover kick ass or what?

click to enlarge!

A sketch of this week's cover. (40k).

We recently sat down (well, I was sitting and I assume he was too) and had a bit of a chat about the demoscene, making games, and digital art.

Sumaleth: OK, lets start off with the usual question; anything you say can and will be used against... Sorry, wrong file. Um.. what’s your real name?

Joachim: Joachim Barrum (donBarrum).

Sumaleth:: So you're one of those rare demosceners that actually used their 'real name' as a handle?

Joachim: Well, yes. I didn't know any cooler name than my own, and if I ever got famous I liked it to be by my own name.

Sumaleth:: How did you get into digital art? Did it begin with an introduction to the demoscene?

Joachim: Well, I had always done drawing on paper. But about 10 years ago a friend of mine forced me to draw on the Amiga instead of playing games, so we joined the demoscene. He was a swapper and he wanted me to do artwork for his utility disks. Later we started a demogroup which made me fall in love with computer as a drawing medium.

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Credits: Cover illustration © 2000 Joachim. Under Cover is © 2000 Rowan Crawford. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, you silly rabbit, you.