Gary Lucken, also known by his studio name, Army Of Trolls, is based on the south coast of the UK. Before becoming a full-time illustrator, he worked as a game tester and graphic designer for UK videogame publisher Empire Interactive. Regular Edge readers will recognise his work from pages of the magazine dating back to a special edition dedicated to the vintage gaming scene, for which he designed the cover image. His favourite games include Bubble Bobble, Guardian Heroes and the Monster Hunter series.
HISTORY “I’ve being working with pixels for over ten years as a full-time illustrator. I started out messing around on my Amiga in Deluxe Paint, but my big break was getting the opportunity to produce the cover for the first Edge Retro special edition. The work just snowballed from there. I recently redrew the Edge Retro cover, and I think it’s a perfect example of how my work has changed over time. I’ve improved with my choice of colours, and moved away from black outlines. Plus, I prefer to work small now: the rebooted Edge cover is half the size of the original, and I think it contains even more detail.”
APPEAL “I’ve always drawn since I was a child, constantly doodling on any paper I might have in front of me. Then, when videogames came along, I was fascinated by the artwork – something about the way it popped off the screen drew me to it. So it was a natural progression to combine the two. I also like how focusing on pixels can refine your artwork, especially when working at a small size or with a limited colour palette.”
STYLE “My style is very cartoony, with bright colours and lots of cute little monsters – or ‘Trolls’, as they came to be called. It stems from what I always loved drawing as a kid, so it’s just something that I settled into naturally.”
INSPIRATION “It comes from everywhere, really: games I love, like Zelda, Gunstar Heroes and Bubble Bobble; movies like Evil Dead 2 and a lot of old horror movies, especially Hammer stuff; and also comics. Alternatively, I just daydream and hope the little monsters come to me – then I simply draw them.”
THE SCENE “I think it’s buzzing. Pixel art has that nostalgia factor, and it’s become a legit art form in itself. It’s no longer a way of knocking out games quickly and easily with a small team of artists. It’s a style used today on even the most powerful consoles simply because it looks great, and it’s being really pushed in all directions by some amazing artists.”
ADVICE “I would say grab an art program and just get creating. Start small, make mockup games – the sort of thing you would like to play yourself – and show them off online; I love seeing other people’s work. Study the classics and look at how they hint at detail and use colours. Just enjoy yourself – hopefully that will make you want to keep creating pixel art.”