2012 Drew Hill

 2012 Drew Hill 
3.16.12 Susan Bonner

Drew Hill, 2004 Alum. working at WMS Gaming, Chicago, IL
from Drew Hill was a Visiting Artist Career Talk at Kendall January 20, 2012

Drew has worked 3 years at WMS.

He did freelance before that and currently, which can be seen at DrewHillStudio.com
He came in for a career day and worked directly with the Concept and Production Course
update: Drew is currently working at Epic Games


Drew Hill - Kendall Grad, WMS Artist, and Sam Aquino- Lead Artist WMS visited and toured the facilities.

They liked the laptop initiative and felt it was better that students had their own laptops because drawing and working on their art more often is key to success. They were very impressed with our Cintiq lab and said that would be the future of production.

Is there anything that we need to add to make our facilities better?

A Reference photo space for pixelation and lighting.


We have Cintiqs and tablets, desktop computers and drawing space.

We have the best of sound software it's key to our success to not have the sound be annoying. For Sound we use proTools and other sound software.

Drew's Workstation:

Mac Pro tower 27 inch monitor

We used to have PCs and switched to Macs

Intuos tablet  medium size

Draw as much as I can

Draw on the light boards

What software do you use for animation?

Flash, After Effects, Particle Illusion (a plugin for special effects)

What do you use for imaging?

Photoshop and Flash

How does a game get created beginning to end process?

Game Designers (the engineers) come up with the game play that we fill that with images

Drew draws concepts for the 3d characters


I do the Concept art (character and background)

Ui design and animation (including special effects)

Color comps

The art lead chooses which concept to move forward with.
Character needs to look good from all angles 

3d characters  are made in 3d Studio Max at WMS

Artists create Orthographic models 

He creates Color comps after storyboard for bonus runs

It focuses on color contrast large shapes

Type is included in this comp

Prototypes he got sent Los Vagas to do market testing where WMS  gets feedback from the players the artists and engineers will listen to the feedback on site


Ui design is really important part of what they do.

Try to do it in the most organized ay with. 

Different parts that fade in and out programmatically 

They use Warp tool in AE and then some particle illusion

When Midway (console Game Design) closed out we got a lot of their artist and producers

We don't typically work overtime this is different then the console business

Lightning done in After effects

Likes to show the character in many angles

Backgrounds each section. A different background each a different color scheme

Multi-plane animation for background

3 separate images that loop in the back of the feature image

Symbol sets that they make clear hierarchy of symbols then players really wan the bonus symbol

Bonus animations in flash for character

Secondary animation is created for movement such as belly movements after jumps

Sound designer will provide the points where the frames are triggered

Then the programmer will bring up the frame as needed

Png sequences are handed to programmers

J as strings pngs together

Or BINK which is used by the console industry

Slots are random there is a lot of investment on the math of it


WMS used to be a pinball machine company, now they create slot machines.

They have Studios in Vegas, Austrailia and Chicago 

The studio environment includes programmers, 3d artists and 2d animation team

Associate artist 

Core artists 

Senior Artists

There are different directions towards as management 

Game designers give the shell of the game play

They are Mathematicians

Then we do a storyboard first

It goes before a team of upper management and then it goes back for us for revision

Sound is designed

Sound helps you think you see something you didn't it makes the hits seem harder


IGT is the biggest competitor they are the Microsoft of slots




They also do video games and slots

We do research by going to the casinos and playing the competitor's games


East and west coast is bigger but Kalabash is there in Chicago

Warner brothers bought Midway and the  Mortal Combat Lisence

They run a studio in Chicago

Disney interactive console games for wii

High voltage console games

There are a lot of layoffs in console industry lately


He brought Post Cards with him to interview left at the interview

That helped

His portfolio was really important

His ability to be divers and do both animation and character and background design. 

Make a Portfolio site

Have a Target audience

I focused on a portfolio in school

Try to take every opportunity to think of it all as a portfolio piece

Spend time to develop a unique artistic voice 

My senior year I finally had a something

But it took a lot of revisions to get the style

Get drawing skills the best you can

Drew graduated with a diverse set of skills, which included imaging and animation.

Make sure the first 30-40 seconds of your reel is awesome. My art lead said she often doesn't watch a reel for more than 30 seconds. I've helped look at portfolios in the hiring process and now I know why. It's a very daunting task to look through tons of reels while you also have deadlines to meet.  Think of it as something flashy to catch their eye so they want to see more. A ton of talented people show their work here and you want yours to stand out. They won't watch your complete animations unless they like your reel enough.
I hope I'm not being discouraging but I want to give you an accurate picture of what is demanded in the industry. We turn down lots of very talented people all the time. Now that you're graduated and showing your portfolio around, spend this time polishing it. Animate and draw in your spare time so you can continue to improve. Update your portfolio as you make new stuff. You could even do a couple polished 5 second animation clips to throw in your reel to show more variety.

As for WMS, we don't have positions solely dedicated to animation. An associate artist (what you'd be applying for) needs to do graphic design, animation, and Illustration. It's also very important to demonstrate that you have strong digital painting skills.


Marketing yourself:

Use Post cards

Word of mouth

Drew went through the Artist And Graphic Design Market book (which we have in the library) to find magazines that went well with his work.

He sent out postcards which were very high quality prints. Feedback is not instant on the postcards. People will put them up in a cubicle and wait for the right project for you. 1 year later he heard back from HOW magazine

Editorial illustration is different then freelance for bands and self promotional work where he was more in control.

The Art Director emails the project saying the length of the article with a big blank square where the art is to go.

They give you possible direction. Editorial work takes a while to get paid, can be about a month.

Drew does a lot of freelance illustration for Children's Ministry Magazine

The Art Director had been hanging the postcards on the cube but was waiting for the right project.


Drew Draws constantly and that level of practice is really the key to his success in gaining a style.

For his freelance work which can be seen in the Frog image on DrewHillStudio.com

His method is to start with charcoal for the drawing

Multiply layer with charcoal, create a highlights layer and add a Flares layer.

All of the shading comes from the charcoal and the work is digitally colored and special effects are added in Photoshop.

A New style for Drew has more digital workflow then the first method.

In photoshop he uses a Clipping mask vector mask and places textures in to it, this can be seen in the pin up work.

Trying to get the weight of the character right

Also using tracing paper to rework the image until it has the right amount of gesture and form.


Drew uses a lot of mixed media in his work which is inspired by his use of pixelation from his animation.

For his Dead Cowboy image there are piles of skulls which were created in clay and photographed at different angles. He includes wood textures often and is inspired by Victorian architecture and metal decorative scrolls which get added as a pattern in his work to add richness to the look.

Drew is Posting dreams on twitter and created a whole brand for his dreams it can be found as 

"The dream machine" He plans to compile a good sequence of dreams and then to publish them as a book.


It's easy for artists to neglect the sketching and so keep doing it.

Think 3 dimensionally when drawing, thinking about building it in 3d shapes.

Draw background and props too, not just characters.

Drew does life drawing too open sessions on life drawing, Life drawing is important to allow for non stiff poses.

Drew took as many life drawing classes as he a could for his electives at Kendall.

He saw a weakness in his hand drawings and did 5 pages of Hand drawings 


Drew received a grant from Kalamazoo Arts Council for animation "the Slimy Green Prince"

The process of creating "the Slimy Green Prince"

His puppets are made of wire and foam pleather for skin

Aluminum wire from a stop motion website

Concepts sketches for frog (many)

For the form he creates a wire skeleton 

He had to keep rebuilding the form because it is fragile.

He did a test walk cycle.

Keyed out the background in a photoshop program

Worked in Flash for the animation.

Then After Effects for moving and panning things around.

Shadows duplicates the composition and flatten it and then skewed it

It took a year and a half total to make it

The sound design outsourced

He used Particle illusion for special effects.

Subpages (1): 2012DrewHill-a