Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Three Castles Award: Excellence in RPG Design

I am proud to say that I designed the The Three Castles Award. This award is for true excellence in RPG design and it is given out each year at the North Texas RPG Convention (NTRPGCon). The NTRPG Con focuses on old-school Dungeons & Dragons gaming as well as any pre-1999 type of RPG produced by the classic gaming companies of the 70s and 80s.

Rob Kuntz was responsible for the original idea and development of the award (his blog). Rob is a game designer and author of role-playing game publications. As a D&D player, Rob developed the famous character of Robilar, and because of Rob's imaginative play of this character Gary Gygax"the father of roll playing games" awarded him co-Dungeon Master status for Gygax's original Greyhawk home campaign. 

Rob first started the development of the award by commissioning a 2D artist to draw standard views of the three castles used in D&D's play-test, 1972-1973: BlackmoorGreyhawk and El Raja Key. Then he contacted me to take the drawings and put them into a 3D design of the award. I sketched out ideas and emailed them to him:

Rob told me to move forward with the dragon on a mountain design and he gave me many specifics about the final design. I then modeled out the design and created technical drawings from many angles so that the award could be sculpted. Below are my technical drawings and render.

Then Rob approved the design and NTRPGCon had the sculpture made:

Last Year's Winner:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Beagle Character Design Process: Big ears or small?

First, I took photos of my own beautiful beagle. I tried to get her from several angles and really study her shape. One thing I love about beagles is their big huge beagle ears! So when I started sketching I found myself enhancing her ears and exaggerating her eyes... and then her whole beagle head started to enlarge in my sketches!

Immortalized as Game Hero
After I sketched my real beagle, I decided on the proportions for the character beagle and drew technical drawings of it from the front and side. This is called a character model sheet.

I brought the technical drawings into Autodesk 3ds Max and "traced" the drawings in 3D from all angles. I typically model just half the body and then use what is called a "symmetry modifier" that will create a mirror image to complete the model.
Once I was happy with the model, I then "unwrapped" it so I could texture. This means that I basically flattened the 3D model as if flattening a box or unwrapping a gift. After that, I took my photos of my beagle and made textures in Photoshop.
The textures look great on the model, however, I cannot decide if the beagle character should have big beagle ears or not.
Big Ears   Small Ears
Then, in order to really assess how I want the beagle's ears to look, I cropped the small ears even more and brought both models into a game engine. This way I could walk around the character, interact with it and see it from the player's perspective.
Since this is just a development build, this model will go through several more iterations and then I will create a low-poly model to optimize for the game engine!
So, what do you think? Big ears or small?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

3D Illustration: Breaking the Rules Cover Art

Cover art:
(please click to enlarge in another window.)

Hired by author and publisher, Kurt Wright, who is highly respected by instructors of personal coaching skills for having developed an easily-mastered way of asking questions that enable people to get connected directly to their intuitive mind and follow its inner wisdom.

This illustration is for the new, soft cover release of his book "Breaking the Rules, Accessing Your Inner Wisdom." To read the reviews of his hardcover book that was published for over 10 years please click here:

Breaking the Rules, Removing the Obstacles to Effortless High Performance by Kurt Wright (Hardcover - April 15, 1998)

Breaking the Rules, Removing the Obstacles to Effortless High Performance by Kurt Wright (Paperback– 2010)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dragon Trade Show Booth Design

Once upon a time, I was brainstorming ideas for an AMD trade show booth. At that time I was also experimenting with modeling characters for games. Since AMD has a dragon platform that was engineered for gamers, I decided to model a dragon character that could sit on top of their booth. I also imagined the dragon theme inside the booth where I could create dragon wing peds.

My virtual dragon trade show booth was fun to model in 3D. However, actually building it in real life is another story! Due to the impracticality of building the design in reality, I never pitched it but you can see my virtual dragon in this animation:

Sunday, March 15, 2015

IBM at NRF: Retail's Big Show 2014

NRF: Retail's Big Show 2014
Javitz Center New York City
client: IBM 70' x 50' booth at entrance of Expo
Booth 3D Design and Renders Below
by Lauren Farrow

IBM reaction:
"Amazing... not just a booth, but an experience."

Booth Design:
Since this is a retail show, I designed the booth to be like a high end department store such as Barney's so that IBM can demonstrate their Merchant and Customer retail technologies. I organized it so that IBM's Merchant demos are in the center of the booth and their Customer technologies are on the sides of the booth. For the Merchant demos I created a space like a fashion designer's studio. For the Customer technologies I created (3) areas: Cafe, Housewares, Women's fashion. I mirrored the booth on both sides so that IBM can give (2) tours simultaneously.


Booth Set up in NYC
January 10 - 13, 2014
(It was scary to watch them hang the large vertical banners but they made it work!)

Night before Show Opening
Jan 13, 2014

I picked out all the furniture. The look we were going for was Vintage Chic. During set up we had to travel across Manhattan to go to a Target where we bought all the accessories.

The Show Opens and IBM's booth is packed!
Jan 13, 2014