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Vol. 2, Issue 4
December 1, 1999
Under Cover :
Dhabih Eng

by Rowan "Sumaleth" Crawford

oes the name, Doc Holiday, ring a bell? Sounds a bit like a character from that Brat-Pack movie, Young Guns, perhaps? Keep guessing. A decidedly average Michael J Fox comedy? Nope. Maybe the reason you can't get your broken arm checked out on a sunny day? Come on, we're talking about games here!

Doc Holiday, in times past, was the handle used by a young art school student who, in his spare time produced a small series of fan-art images based on the id Software game-in-development, Quake 2.

A Gunner portrait was first to appear, accompanied by the soft hum of enthusiasm from a receptive Blue's News readership. The image seemed to resonate the look and feel of the (at the time) still largely under-cover sequel to the immensely popular, Quake, and it was promptly put into good use as Windows wallpaper everywhere.

click to enlarge!

An image of Turok2 for an Electronic Gaming Monthly cover. (270k).

Time goes by, the world as a whole settles back down into the previous daily grind, and Windows is once again reintroduced to the bikini-clad female form.

And then another image is released by Doc Holiday, this time an atmospheric image of a mysterious flying character from Quake 2. The online community begins to hum again, although this time it feels a little more like a buzz; the Doc had proven that the first picture wasn't merely the result of luck.

Readers of Blue's News and other gaming news sites during that that period will recall the regular flow of quality images from Doc Holiday; more Quake 2 pictures at first, but eventually other themes began to

appear. And even though they occasionally had little to do with games, the fan base was well enough established that they continued to appear as Images Of The Day on a variety of gaming news sites.

Eventually the Doc's work was spotted by gaming magazines who saw in his work a style of image highly suited to gaming magazine covers; large, bold designs, smooth shading and colors, and quite often quite adventurous designs. He has since gone on to produced 7 magazine covers for a variety of gaming magazines, including Electronic Gaming Monthly, PCGaming UK, and Game Developer Magazine.

With the change from hobbiest to commercial artist came another change as well; the signature on his images. He gave the Doc Holiday moniker back to the Val Kilmers and Michael J Foxes of this world and

chose to begin signing the images with his real name; Dhabih Eng.

'Dhabih' is a name that you'd never guess how to pronounce, there's just no way! The correct pronunciation is like 'ZA-BEE' (and the Eng bit is 'ENG'). "For those wondering where my name comes from," Dhabih explains on his website, "it's because my dad's half Chinese, half Scottish; and my mom's Persian. Hence the name Dhabih."

As well as producing magazine cover images, Dhab (Zab) also created a logo for the gaming news site, sCary's Shuga Shack, and was also asked by Valve Software to produce a pair of images for their long-time-in-production but hugely-successful first person shooter title, Half-Life, a game that, at the time, was beginning to create an incredible buzz of it's own.

"I had known a couple of people at Valve (John Guthrie, Steve Bond) casually before they were hired. One day they invited me down to check out Half-Life and while I was there I was asked to do some freelance work."

For Half-Life, Dhabih was tasked with creating two major images of the Half-Life Man-Of-Action, Gordon Freeman (OK, Gordon's really a bit of a nerd, but give him an enviro-suit and a crowbar and you've got a very hard man indeed!). The two pictures were; the loading image, seen whenever loading a previously saved game, and the portrait of Gordy on the box cover.

All the while he was still at university, doing an "Interdisciplinary Art major at the University of Washington".

"That's a fancy way of saying 'general art'. So the courses ranged from painting to jewelry design to furniture design. Some courses were just fun to try, like the metal classes and clay classes. It's really interesting to get into other fields of art other than just 2D. I think the oil painting classes aided me the most in learning about light shapes, negative shapes, and stuff like that."

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Credits: Cover illustration © 1999 Dhabih Eng. Under Cover is © 1999 Rowan Crawford. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, you cartoonish villian, you.