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2, Issue 4
December 1, 1999
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
to begin signing the images with his real name; Dhabih Eng.
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 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
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."
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.
the while he was still at university, doing an "Interdisciplinary
Art major at the University of Washington".
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
the time he was at university he began to work with Evolve Software,
an internet based game development company that began life by
creating the Quake deathmatch mod, Pain Keep, and then went on
to create the commercial (though, unofficial) Quake 2 mission
pack, Zaero, and also an official mission pack for the
groundbreaking action-strategy game, Battlezone.
on a range of tasks for Zaero originally, such as textures,
skins, and monster concept art, but found it increasingly difficult
to work on Zaero while also trying to keep up with the
continually growing requirements of his schooling. "What's
mine in the final product is actually quite little. Just a couple
monster designs and a few textures."
work for Evolve was cut completely when, at the end of his university
course, another opportunity presented itself: a fulltime position
at Valve Entertainment. Valve had loved the work he had done for
Half-Life and had subsequently offered him fulltime work,
an offer that didn't need to be asked twice, especially considering
the incredible (and well deserved) public response that Half-Life
has been working at Valve now for 9 months, tasked with creating
"promotional artwork, logo treatments and things like that"
for their near-complete (and highly anticipated) multiplayer game,
Team Fortress 2.
having a real great time here; it's laid back, the people are
friendly, and the kitchen is always stocked."
differences he's found between magazine artwork and game artwork;
approach is different in that, for [magazine] covers, there is
a specific subject matter that needs to be shown, and most of
the time there was a pretty clear idea in the magazine art directors
mind what he want. In game design, there is more freedom to create
things that you think would look cool (with the art direction
continues to create big, adventurous images, for both commercial
(magazine) uses and just for the fun of it. Just recently, one
of his oldest fan-pictures, an alien from Half-Life no
less, was touched up and used for the cover of Game Developer
Magazine, creating some sort of strangely unnatural cycle in the
way his professional career has stemmed from what was originally
a hobby, and then looped back on its self.
web site, http://www.sijun.com
has been a big draw card over the several years he's had it running,
due originally to the artwork, tutorials and the short lived CelebMorf
series (Warning: seriously
freaky stuff!). But more recently the hits have been mounting
up for the message boards he's been running for a few months,
particularly the one devoted to digital art that draws a crowd
of digital artists from all walks of life (at last count it had
more than 240 registered users).
to digital art recently went through a major rethink (a TechniqueMorf?);
gone are the days of beginning an image with an outline, and in
comes an approach based around shapes and forms;
used to start with line drawings colored in flatly, and then I
shaded each individual area [..] this way had a more cartoony
feel to it. Now I treat the screen as a canvas, like oil painting;
putting in large shapes of color and light and then going through
to better define shapes."
started this new way soon after starting at Valve after I ran
across Craig Mullins' site."
Mullins strikes again (remind me to get him onto a cover sometime!).
projects for Dhabih at Valve Software are currently under wraps
but with the huge success of Half-Life it wouldn't take a genius
to hope that a sequel will figure into it somewhere. And the future
of his art?
is something that I've just recently started thinking about. The
dust has kind of settled from all my excitement of getting a new
job and graduating from school, and so I'm looking into new ways
for me to improve my art, and also see what I can do with it in
a non-work related form."
Rowan "Sumaleth" Crawford is loonygames' Supervising
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