Sometimes it’s hard to believe there was a time when the Adobe Creative Suite didn’t exist. Prior to the late 1980s, if you were creating an advertisement or illustration for a magazine, cover art for a video game cartridge, a movie poster or a book cover, you did it the way it’s been done since the dawn of the retail age:  ink, paint, X-Acto knives and airbrushing. This article deals with the airbrush, in particular, airbrushed video game art.
The early 1980s were the glory days of the airbrush in commercial video game art. This is partly because many of the games were so simplistic that just showing a screenshot of the game wasn’t going to turn many heads. Marketers needed a piece of art that would tell a story. A detailed piece of fantasy artwork could convince digital adventure seekers to shell out their hard earned cash or allowance. Using an airbrush enabled the artist to create art that was cutting edge, sharp, crisp and dare I say, like it came from a computer. Or whatever people imagined a art from a computer would look like. No other tool gave you the ability to quickly create sci-fi and fantasy settings with all the dimensionality, shadow, shine and glow that made it pop off the page.
Of course the airbrush wasn’t limited to paper media. The movie “Tron” took place almost entirely inside a computer video game and was limited by the same constraints as print media. Only a few seconds of actual computer animation made it into the film. The rest relied on analog technology and heavy use of airbrushed matte paintings. The airbrush made it seem otherworldly. Like it hadn’t been created by hand but had been imagined into existence by some artificial intelligence.
I may be overstating it. What you will see below is a mixed bag. There’s some excellent airbrushed art here, but some is downright amateurish. Given the limited budget some of these independent game publishers were dealing with, I imaging there were a lot of brother-in-laws, cousins and interns creating ad art when they weren’t quite up to the task.
By the way, click the images below to see the full pages they were taken from.

Airbrushed Video Game Art Cool Dude
From Electronic Games Magazine, issue 10, 1983.

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Japanese Noodle Vending Machine Illustration
I’m a real sucker for Japanese vending machines. In general, I love the multitude of designs, colors and contents available. More than the modern machines though, I love the vintage designs that can still be found here and there, scattered around Japan. I’ve spent hours watching the videos on http://jihanki.michikusa.jp/. Uotani Yusuke’s website introduced me to the wondrous world of of the Fuji Electric noodle vending machine. Capable of spinning out fresh hot ramen and udon, these old machines were a staple in Japan’s 24/7 vending spots back in the 1970s and 1980s. They served up hot, quick meals for travelers and tourists. The relatively few machines that still exist today are kept alive with hand made replacement parts and are lovingly fed with 100 yen coins by enthusiasts, like USK.
I recreated the Fuji noodle machine as an illustration and I’m providing it as desktop and cellphone wallpaper. I’ll be adding other wallpapers soon. Some will be Japanese vending machines, but I’ll be posting other pieces of art that I’ve had on this site in high resolution. I hope you enjoy. Click here for the wallpaper page.

Personal Computers In the 1980s atari 800
From the 1980 J.C. Penney Christmas Catalog. Featured here is the Atari 800. With a whole whopping 16k of RAM. Holy mackerel, it’s monstrously huge! Looks like it was built into an IBM Selectric chassis.

Reposted from June 2011. This is a brand new selection of vintage personal computers in the 1980s from Department Store catalogs. As usual, I dug through the magnificent selection at Wishbookweb.com. Go there. Wait, finish looking at this post. THEN, go there.
As per usual, click the image to view the entire catalog page and a lot more cool imagery of Ye Olde Computers. More after the fold.

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Galaga Pinup Girl
My latest pinup. It’s been a while since I’ve put my nose to the grind and really worked on my art. I’m enthusiastic about this one though, and I believe it will help me to get back on task.
I love video arcades, and Galaga is one of my all time favorite games. It seemed only natural to create a Galaga pinup.


clip-on tie, computer, nerd, geek, code monkey

“The Official Silicon Valley Guy Handbook”
, written in 1983 by Patty Bell, Doug Myrland and Bob Glazar. As with most of my unusual finds, I found this in the bottom of a bin at an estate sale. This is one of the earliest tomes chronicling the rise of the code monkey. It’s a tongue in cheek instruction manual for living as and understanding the computer programmer in the early days of the computer age. It’s also one of the earliest examples of using computer hardware as a euphemism for reproductive organs that I’ve found. Overall, this book seems antiquated, since the terminology and in-jokes are mostly obsolete now. But it’s a fun read if you’re nostalgic for the early days, before 3 out of 10 high-school students knew at least some HTML.

More photos and illustrations from the book, after the break. Click images to enlarge.

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Retro Computer
I have soft spot for 1980s computer tech. Maybe it’s because I grew up during the start of the personal computer revolution and was heavily invested in it at an early age. Maybe it’s because I’m nostalgic and I feel sad for all those early generation beasties, languishing in land fills today. Maybe it’s because I’ve never gotten past my love of the old keyboard clickety-clack sounds, which were so much better than the mushy keyboards of today. Regardless of the why, I like the aesthetic, so here are some fine examples. Click an image for a larger version.

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