['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day.]


I'm a bit annoyed at Future's subscription department as they seemed to have stopped sending me all magazines except PlayStation: TOM even though my subscriptions don't expire for another few months on any of them.

Luckily, my rage was distracted a bit by Braid (PC), Tower of Druaga (Wii; still cannot beat level 41 with any kind of consistency after all these years) and the March '09 issue of UK design magazine Computer Arts Projects, which you ought to be able to find right now at Barnes & Noble if you're in the US.

I have never read this mag before, but it's devoted to all manner of art and graphic design, and as you'd expect, it's impeccably well laid out and very much arranged to look visually pleasing. This is apparently the first time they've devoted an issue to video games, which is a surprise considering it's been around for 120 issues, but it's a treat to read nonetheless. Some of the highlights:

- An interview with the lead art guys at Traveller's Tales, a group that seems remarkably bright and enthusiastic despite (because of?) their lot working on one LEGO game after another
- Jonny Duddle (a freelancer who's done all kinds of work for SCE Europe and other UK devs) teaching you how to do a turnaround sheet for a game character, complete with neato-bandito shots of the work-in-progress in Photoshop
- A profile on Deck13 Interactive, a German adventure-game maker currently ballooning in order to tackle for its first full-on 3D game project
- Another art guy, Jose Emroca Flores of High Moon Entertainment, doing the step-by-step on illustrating a game environment in Photoshop
- A quick tour of the best in game art over the past year, including comments from the art guys behind Braid, World of Goo, Fable II, Street Fighter IV, and many more
- Three illustrators tasked with creating the box art for a nonexistent game called Bob v killer pandas (their spelling), with humorous results
- One guy making a trendy-looking Flash game with Illustrator and ActionScript and showing you how over six pages

And way way more. Considering this is their first shot at video game coverage, they did a great job of extending themselves to the industry.

I used to get mail all time back in my hoary Newtype USA days from readers stating that the "How to Art" section (where manga artists draw something nice and show you how they did it) was their favorite. This, despite the fact that "How to Art" didn't really teach you anything.

Sure, the captions talked about shading and using this or that filter in PS, and doubtlessly what they say in their text is correct. But it's not like you'd know how to really apply this stuff unless you, like the artist bring profiled, practiced drawing for a few thousand hours first.

No, the point of the column (for the vast majority of readers) was that it's fascinating to see the creative process in action. If you dig that sort of thing, this issue of Computer Arts Projects is 100 pages of that for video game art. Expensive, but worth it.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]