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Q&A With Ryan Jones, Artist

posted by nikasaur on - last edited - Viewed by 6.9K users
Cruising past Ryan's desk, it's hard not to peer over his shoulder and see what he's working on- with his own unique style, he turns Telltale's dreams into visual inspiration, and sets the stage for how our games play out.

TODAY, that's Friday 3/26 from 3-4pm PST, we're gonna have him in here to do a Q&A and release some new concept art for you guys! Got any questions for him? The place is here, the time is now! Bring it on.
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  • Noir Sam made my day. <3
  • Thanks for the new desktop background! The drawings look great!

    Who's your favorite character to draw from all the Sam and Max characters so far?
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    Ry Guy Telltale Staff
    What piece are you most proud of?

    I loved the tarot cards! So much so I'm ordering a deck for myself and am not going to sell it until I die.. then i'll be filthy rich!
    What do you think is your crowning achievement while working for TTG?

    I think that would be ToMI. They took a chance and a lot of faith in me, along with the help of the design and art team, to define the art style of the game.
    What is your favorite medium?

    Most definately digital.. i've done some mixed media before. But I crave the cleanness of digital. Also, you aren't punished that much for mistakes.

    How do you handle working on a character that isn't your own visual creation, like Sam & Max themselves (or any of the other returning characters from either the comic or the older games; assuming you have to do concept art for them)? How much room do you have to insert your own vision? And how much creative space do you have when you have to design a new character for Telltale?
    Well, I take a lot of reference. Sam and Max weren't too much of a headache because I've always admired Steve's stuff even before coming here. I take a lot of inspiration from his work and it's a blast to emulate it. When trying to get a style down I look at the tendencies, how they draw their hands, eyes, mouths, etc. But, it's near impossible to lose my personal style, so that will show through regardless. I get a lot of creative space in Sam and Max when designing new, original characters. They mainly just need to look stylistically the same.

    Was the (brilliant) piece of concept art you can see on the newspaper on the teaser site (Sam & Max getting handed the key to New York) inspired by the picture on one of the last pages of Bad Day on the Moon, where the mayor of New York hands the giant cockroach the same key? The way the mayor hands over the key and the way the cockroach accepts it looks quite like the way you have drawn it. And in a semi-related question, did you ever work together with Steve Purcell in trying to achieve a certain look or quality to your drawings?

    Ah, that guy was more just like a "we need a picture for the newspaper" so I got to have some fun with it. I don't work directly with Steve, but he takes a look at all we do here and gives it a yay or nay. It's really humbling to work indirectly with him.. he's the man!
    What do you think of the huge positive response Telltale has gotten on the quality of your drawing (resulting in various products like the Voodoo Cards)? Will we ever see a book containing all the art you created for Wallace, Monkey, Sam & Max and whatever you will be working on in the future?

    Oh man! Being very vein, I love love. Any love i get, i love. I love what I do and I hope it shows. So it's great to have a good response.
    If you could get Telltale to make any game in the universe, regardless of how fun it would be and just based on what you like to draw, what would you like Telltale to work on?

    I'm an 8bit, 16bit boy. I love nostalgia and with an existing title like that, it would be really open for interpretation. So it would be really great to reimagine/update a title like EWJ or Battletoads! That's just me speaking and it would never happen.. but it would be great!

    1) Between designing characters and settings/props, which is more fun for you? Do you find one of them more difficult than the other to design for? How much does designing with 3D in mind affect your answer to either of the previous questions, if at all?

    Oh man, characters most definately. I got my focus in art school in character design.. so anytime I can inject personality into dudes, it's good times. I find environments are the toughest to design for 3d.. mainly because of that pesky vert count. If that didn't matter, most all of my designs would be like clutter bugs live there. I really dug the old environments in Hit the Road how there was just clusters of crazy crap all over the place. For some reason, I really like drawing piles of stuff.. it's a weird fetish.
    2) What is the best piece of advise you can think of for artists who want to improve their use of lighting and color in whatever they're painting?

    Well, a lot of life drawing and observation is key.. as for color it's just a matter of using schemes or coming up with schemes that are pleasing to the eye or that work for the situation that calls for it. I think that makes sense.. Mainly just practice and doing it. A teacher said to me that you have a finite number of bad drawings in you.. the more you do them, the more you get the certain number of awful drawings out. Then it's all gold. I think he was lying though.

    How is the process (roughly) when you do concept art? When I do web pages I always say "tell me exactly what you want and I'll do whathever I can", Is it something among this lines or different in some sort of way?

    Well, I have to work close with the art directors and the designers when doing a concept. First, they give me general direction. I take that then gather up a bunch of reference then scribble stuff down. They go over the scribbles and tell me what's working, and what isn't. Then round 2 and they tell me the same thing. Then barring any other issues I color it and finish it up and pass it on to the modellers. So, along those lines, it's about the same, but always working close with them.
    I love the Narrator the first time I saw his desing in the teaser page. Really. So... who has the great idea of make him black and white except for the rose?

    Well, that's all Chuck. He wanted a call back to the old twilight zone and those types of shows. But someone as eccentric as the narrator needs a splash of red!

    Where do you draw inspiration when you've hit the dreaded artist's block? Especially if it's for some assignment and you're only given a loose guideline of what to do.

    Eh, it usually comes just from finding something inspirational.. from either web surfing or sleeping. I do like sleeping. Videogames help me out too! But something as simple as doing something else for awhile usually helps.

    When do you want your "The Age of Sam and Max"-book back?

    Now plz, kthxbai. :D

    The Commissioner:
    Do you think that the finished results (3D models) in the game look like your concept art, or do they exceed your expectations?

    Well, I work right next to the character modeller, supremely talented Jason Findley. I am always amazed with the way he gets it down and adds his own voice to what I drew.. seeing it in 3d is really exciting!


    Now, I'm not exactly sure just how much you do at Telltale (if you just design the characters, or if you just do the locations, or if you design everything) but if you've done locations, then what was the hardest location to make in any Sam & Max game?

    I get to design it all.. er, draw it all. The hardest location in SnM is probably this place in 302.. it's huge! That was a lot of designing stuff and layouts and the like.. don't want to say exactly what it is so I don't spoil anything.. maybe i'm just paranoid.

    Did you have fun making the tarot cards? (That was you, right?) I'm thinking especially the ones that are several cards.

    You betcha! It was so fun! I like drawing characters.. but when I'm giving freedom to pretty much do whatever I want and just make some pretty pictures, that's super fun. Can't wait to see the actual deck.

    Why did you decide to work with Telltale?

    Because TTG is awesome! And I grew up playing Lucasarts adventure games and loved them! I wanted a piece of that, so this was perfect. TTG does funny and I like to draw funnies.


    Will you marry me?
    And if not, will you marry my cat so that I own you?

    Yes! I do! But, i'm not sure if my wife can handle another person around.. so can I just marry your cat? She would love another kittie.

    Hassat Hunter:
    Out of the games listed, which one was the most fun for you to work with. And (of course), why?

    It's all really fun! I had the most freedom on MI, so thus far that is my vote, but none so far have been blech.


    If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

    The power of not needing to breath! It's such a chore sometimes.. It gets in the way of eating. I'm a simpleton, so that will do.


    Whos idea was it to put Treasure Crab in the credits and is there a high rez version of it?

    Well, they told me to draw stuff for the end.. so I did a doodle of em. I can't remember if I made it high rez or not.. i'll have to check.
    How much direction do you get when designing stuff? Or do you just draw a whole bunch of stuff and they pick and choose their favorites?

    I get general direction first, but all in all, I just draw a bunch of stuff and they pick there favs.

    Do you think you'll have figured out how to work this thing before the end of the Q&A? :P

    NO! It's 4:30 and i'm just now answering this.. failed..


    If the Telltale staff were forced to fight for a cookie who would be the last man or woman standing and who would be the first to go down?

    I agree.. Shaun would. Have you seen him perform a drop kick? Dude's a monster.
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    Ry Guy Telltale Staff
    Tjibbbe wrote: »
    Haha, oh wow, those are hilarious. And I love angry Sam, I can't wait to see him like that ingame. Is all this art for the first episode (well, except for that Tomb of Sammun Mak-one...)?

    Oh, and if Telltale ever starts producing action figures, they have to do one of that crazy flying uni-T-rex thing.

    Well, most is. It's all kind of interspersed with the whole season.

    I love me some wrongly put together dinosaurs! I'd love to have that on my desk.
  • Ryan;

    What was the first piece of art you drew for telltale? :-)

    (i couldn't think of a good question :P)

    How come I never saw that billboard before? Seriously Ryan, are you holding out on me?
    I love me some wrongly put together dinosaurs!
    See, I knew we were buddies for a reason.

    Also I fixed you.
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    Ry Guy Telltale Staff
    V_Ben wrote: »

    What was the first piece of art you drew for telltale? :-)

    (i couldn't think of a good question :P)

    Oh man.. it was this really creepy poster of Wallace licking honey from a pot. I look at it now and think, geh.. i've come a long way, baby.
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    Ry Guy Telltale Staff
    nikasaur wrote: »

    How come I never saw that billboard before? Seriously Ryan, are you holding out on me?

    OH! That was supposed to be your birthday present.. happy birthday?
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    Ry Guy Telltale Staff
    Whew.. barring that silly technical difficulty, thanks for stopping by! You guys were great! I'll be answering questions every so often if you guys want some more. And I'll see about getting some more concept art to show ya'll. (that's southern speak for you all. You guys can use that, you're welcome)
  • Do you know that the stripes on Sam's tie in the art you posted are mirrored from the way the are in the games?
    Are you annoyed with me for pointing it out?

    EDIT: Thanks, Ryan, that was great!
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