Posts made in August, 2012

Mad Props Workshop

Mad Props Workshop


Thanks to Everyone who came out to the Mad Props workshop at Keen Halloween! We had a great turn out! So nice to see so many people interested in foam prop building. As promised here is a list of supplies I handed out at the event. Keep in mind foam prop building is largely an experimental medium. I encourage all of you to test out different techniques and If you discover a product or process that’s not on the list let me now and I’ll add it. Let’s keep the list going!

EPS foam (expanded polystyrene/white foam insulation)
XPS foam (extruded polystyrene/pink or blue rigid foam insulation)
Blocks of foam (available locally in Arizona at Henry Products)
Spray foam

Latex paint
Acrylic paints
Dry lock sealer
Chip brushes (cheap throwaway brushes)

Hot-wire cutters
Acetone (eats away at foam, but can create some cool effects)
Spray paint (contains acetone and can also create cool effects)
Stencils (can be used with acetone or spray paint)
Stanley sure form shaver
Hot knives
Foam sanding blocks
Emery boards
Pottery tools
Dremel tool
Heat gun/water bottle
Curry horse comb
Paint stripper drill attachment
Wire brush
Mixer drill attachment (for mixing Monstermud)

Styro spray, for a smooth texture (can by purchased from Industrial Polymers)
Monstermud, for a rough rock-like texture (5 parts drywall joint compound , 1 part latex paint + sand)

Glidden gripper latex primer sealer (great for gluing foam boards together)
Wood glue
Wood filler
White Elmer’s glue
3M Super 77 spray adhesive
PL 300 foam board glue (Home Depot)
Gorilla glue

Rubber gloves (for working with styro spray)
Breathing mask

Opaque projector
Iron-on transfers (for example, Avery brand)
Crayons (better than markers for drawing on foam)

HELPFUL WEBSITES – for hard coatings – a variety of foam cutting tools – local Arizona company manufactures large blocks of foam and pre-cut shapes



In my house, Halloween is always a big event.  My family has a tradition of going a bit mad when it comes to creating spooky decorations, intricate homemade costumes, and creepy special effects. So when I was approached by Daniel Davis of Steam Crow about Keen Halloween, a new Halloween event he was organizing, I jumped at the chance to get involved. Keen Halloween encompasses everything I hold dear about Halloween. Unlike the majority of Halloween themed events, this one is less about horror and more about how-to. The event features a cool Monster Marketplace, live entertainment, workshops, and even an Evil Genius Costume Bar staffed with experts to help you with all your Halloween costume dilemmas.

In addition to the unavailing of my first ever Serkworks booth where I will be selling some of my Halloween-themed indie comics, prints, and novelties, I will be hosting a workshop on how to build Halloween props and decorations using EPS foam.

I’ve been building sets, props, and costume pieces using EPS foam since the mid 90’s. At the time I was producing a pilot for a live-action children’s show. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find any set companies who were able to build the kind of quality sets or props we were looking for within our budget (which wasn’t small). So I did a little research and discovered the wonders of EPS foam. I was amazed at what, with only a little bit of knowledge of sculpting and some general construction know-how, my team (basically my brother and I) was able to accomplish.

After we wrapped production on the pilot, I parlayed my knowledge of foam prop-building to create trade show booths, props for television commercials and films, and even playhouses for my kids.

I’ve had such an awesome and rewarding experience with the medium that I would like to share some of my knowledge, and give anyone interested an insight on how you can build amazing foam props of your own.

Here’s what you can expect to find at the Mad Props workshop:
· A slide show featuring the “behind the scenes” creation of some of the props I’ve created using EPS foam.

· An insider’s look at the many tools that allow you to sculpt EPS foam.

· A sampling of coatings that can be applied to EPS foam.

· A step-by-step demonstration of the basics of creating Halloween props out of EPS foam.

· An opportunity to test out some techniques for yourself.

· A Q and A session to help with all your EPS foam quandaries.

· A list of supplies and places you can purchase just about everything you need to create your own foam prop creations.

All this is included with your Keen Halloween admission. So don’t hesitate The show is just around the corner, September 29th 2012. Phoenix Arizona. Get your Keen Halloween tickets today! See you there!


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Hero Conquest Logo Design Process

Hero Conquest Logo Design Process

If you have seen any of my work, you might have guessed that I love to draw characters. What you might not know is that in addition to character design, I equally love logo design. When a project comes along where I get to incorporate both, needless to say, I’m stoked! Now if someone were to tell me I would get to design a logo with characters, and those characters happen to be superheroes…well, that’s what I’d refer to as a dream job!


For a while I’ve wanted to blog about how I go about designing a logo. I had so much fun with this one in particular (despite one major speed bump) that I had to share the process. So here’s a little insight into how I created the logo for Broken Bulb Game Studio’s newest social game, Hero Conquest. (It was originally titled Superhero Conquest, and I’ll explain the reason for the name change further on in the post.) You can find the link to the game Play it – it’s awesome!


First off, a little disclaimer: This is an abridged version of how I approach a logo design. I’ll try to cover the basic steps, but won’t go too deep into particular techniques of the software I use, Adobe Illustrator. There are plenty of tutorials on the interwebs on that subject. Of course, this is my way of designing a logo. It may not be the best way, but it has worked for me in the past.


I always start in Adobe Illustrator by typing the name or the product or service which will be represented on the logo. Then I ask myself, “What is the feeling I want this logo to evoke?” This logo is for a superhero game so I want to express the feeling of action and adventure, something bold and powerful. I then go through my list of fonts and pick out a few that sum up the emotion I want to convey. There is a very cool free software program I use to organize all my fonts into categories so I can weed out the fonts that won’t work for a particular style, which you can download here:

After I quickly jot down the names of the fonts I like, I assign them to the logotype in Illustrator. Here are some of my selections…

So I’ve picked out a bunch of cool fonts, but in most cases I prefer not to use a stock font. Instead, I usually try and modify it a bit by making a copy of the type and converting it to artwork by selecting: type/convert to outline. This will give you the ability to modify the type as you would any vector shape in Illustrator. You won’t be able to change the font or characters once converted to outline, so be sure to make a copy because you may need it. You can see in the sample below how I modified the original font (indicated in blue) by using a combination of the shear tool, pathfinder tool, shape tool, and pen tool.

With this logo, I wanted to try and incorporate the characters from the game. I thought it would be cool to use silhouettes of the heroes in strong action poses. I usually shy away from using clip art, but after doing an image search for iconic super hero poses, I found this awesome clip art set: At this point I am still doing mock ups, so it makes sense for me to save time by using the clip art poses with a few alterations. Then if the design is approved I can go back and design some original poses. It did take a few minutes to change some of the clip art to look more like the characters in the game using the same techniques I did in the last step with the typography.

Now that I have some type and a few character silhouettes, I mess around with their placement a bit. At this point I may design a few extra elements that I can work into the logo as well. This stage usually takes some time – just me moving things around until I’m happy with the layout, which never seems to come easy.

When I do finally end up with a design I like, I start the whole process over again and create about five or six different logos to choose from. At this point I’m not too concerned about color. I don’t want to influence the art director’s decision in case a particular color looks better. I only want to focus on the design. Here’s what I came up with…

After reviewing the designs, Broken Bulb’s art director picked the design she felt would best fit the game. We had to make some changes, and unfortunately one major change was eliminating most of the hero silhouettes for the logo. The reasoning was that most of the ads for social games are very small, and the characters weren’t easy to distinguish at the smaller size. In addition, the decision was made to give an italicized look to the logo so it could be better integrated into the game’s user interface, which is skewed at an angle. So, the necessary changes were made, color was added, and we ended up with something like this…

At this point everything seemed to be copacetic. We had the logo complete and started to integrate it into the game and marketing materials. However, what we didn’t foresee was that we would have to revisit the design yet again after we received a call from publishing giants Marvel and DC Comics informing us that the word “superhero” is a registered trademark jointly held by the two companies. I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable when it comes to comic books, but I had never thought the word could be trademarked, and especially not jointly by two competing companies, but I digress… Back to the drawing board.

We decided to change the name of the game from Superhero Conquest to simply Hero Conquest. This posed a bit of a problem with redesign of the logo. The words Superhero and Conquest stacked so nicely on top of each other, and when the name was shortened it didn’t seem to look right. Up to this point everyone was really happy with the design, and even though I didn’t want to start over from scratch, I decided to look back at some of my earlier designs for inspiration and found the solution in one of the abandoned designs. I borrowed an artistic element I created earlier in the form of an atom with a few spinning particles. (I think. I was never much good a science, but I know it looked cool.) I combined the old design with the new, made a few more changes to the typography for good measure, and there you have it… the completed logo. Assuming, of course, that no one has a trademark the word, “hero.”

Oh, one last thing. In the beginning of this post I mentioned how cool it was to work on a logo featuring superheroes (or whatever the generic non-trademarked term for superheroes is), and I know the final version of the logo didn’t end up featuring heroes of any sort, so I’m ecstatic to inform you that I am currently working on new graphics for all the heroes and villains in the game, and Broken Bulb will be printing some large scale promotional items prominently featuring the logo with these characters. I will blog about those designs soon, but here is a rough sketch to tide you over. 


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