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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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20121006-102147.jpgGinny and I were up all night getting ready. Now that it’s finally here I’m excited but also a bit exhausted. If you’re in Orlando, I hope you’ll come by and see us!

Here’s a new print that I finished up in preparation for Pinupalooza. Actually, truth be told, it’s an old print that I never finished because I wasn’t sure where to go with it. I finally figured it out and got it finished. It’s a little different style than my usual. A little more cartoony, perhaps. I like the overall look though. Click to make larger.
Pan Am Pinup Boeing 707
Anyone who knows me, knows of my obsession with the history of the airline industry, particularly Pan Am. I’m proud to say that my interest in the advertising art and style of the jetset years began well before every department and discount store were selling poster reproductions. Here’s my small contribution to the style in the form of a Pan Am pinup.

Hey gang. Today, I was the guest comic artist on Laserfist.com. It’s a wild and woolly trip into my subconscious, featuring me, an Ambien fueled lucid dream and a punch-drunk Twinkie. Clicky click the sample and go to Laserfist.
Original web comic by Jason Snyder


I occasionally root through all the sketches I’ve amassed throughout the years to see if there’s anything that gives me inspiration. Once and a while, I’ll find something in that sketch bin that just begs to be finished.
Yesterday, I pulled out a two minute sketch of a little astronaut, holding a tray with a burger and fries, looking for all the world like he was traveling by jet-pack in the same way that carhops of a bygone age would have gone by roller-skates. You see that sketch below.
 
 

Anyway, I spent a few hours turning this little character, who I’d previously named “L’il Astor,” into a Googie / retro-futuristic restaurant sign.

Dr. Weinerbreath (if that’s his REAL name) has written up my little illustration, “Hitchhiking Chutzpah” on the official Ken P.D. Snydecast blog. Read the article here.
Thank you Dr. Weinerbreath. I hope you’ll excuse me if I stick with my regular family practitioner.

eames chair pinup
Original art by Jason Snyder
Here’s my latest pinup. Major mid-century modern influence here, with the Eames Chair (Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman). I painted this entirely in Photoshop.
If you’d like to purchase a print of my Eames Chair Pinup in various sizes check the Buy Jason’s Art page.