Artwork of Doom


Doom's artwork was primarily developed by Adrian Carmack with assistance from Kevin Cloud, while a few specialized works of art were contracted out to additional artists external to the company. The artwork was derived using multiple different techniques, but is notable for its photorealistic elements which gave the game a significant improvement in graphics compared to id Software's previous shooter, Wolfenstein 3D, and which at the time of release was relatively groundbreaking.

Technical background[edit]

id Software's earliest games were designed for the IBM Enhanced Graphics Adapter (EGA) hardware. This includes Hovertank 3D and the Catacomb 3-D series, which constituted their first 3D shooters. Wolfenstein 3D was the first to target the newer Video Graphics Array (VGA) hardware; however, it was originally developed as an EGA game, meaning that the majority of its graphics were still based around the restricted EGA palette. Doom was the first game developed from the beginning to target the VGA hardware.

The primary advantage of the VGA hardware over EGA is the added color depth. EGA supports a 16 color palette selected from a range of 64 colors, while VGA supports a 256 color palette selected from a range of 262,144 colors. While still not fully true color, with a carefully chosen palette, a VGA screen can provide a reasonable approximation of photo-realistic graphics.

Development setup[edit]

Development setup for photography of crafted models on a lazy susan turntable; the camera was connected directly to a NeXTCube computer.

The id team adopted an unusual development environment, using DOS-based PCs in conjunction with NeXT workstations which at the time constituted cutting-edge hardware. The NeXT machines allowed rapid development of the tools used by the team, including the DoomEd editor used to create the levels.

Doom's artists did the majority of their work using the DOS-based Deluxe Paint II. However, the NeXT workstations were still used; the NeXT machines included built-in DSP chips that made them capable of still and video image capture;[1] with a Magnavox EasyCam camera connected, Carmack and Cloud were able to digitally photograph various different objects and drawings to use as source material for Doom's art.

To capture images from the camera and convert them to the VGA palette, John Carmack developed a NeXTStep tool named Fuzzy Pumper Palette Shop;[2] the captured images could then be transferred to the PCs to be cleaned up into proper graphics to be used in-game.

This use of photographic techniques to import real world objects into video games was fairly new and groundbreaking at the time of Doom's release; an analogous example exists in the arcade game Mortal Kombat, released one year prior to Doom, which used similar techniques to provide photo-realistic images of the in-game fighters.


Thematically Doom was envisioned as a cross between the suspenseful sci-fi atmosphere of Aliens and demonic horror movie Evil Dead II.[3]:128 The latter influenced such elements as the chainsaw found in the game.

Inspiration also came from a long-running Dungeons & Dragons game played by the id team; elements of this game later inspired Quake and Daikatana. The game ended with the game world being overrun by demons, similar to the premise of Doom.[3]:75,101 Artwork of an astral dreadnought from the cover of a D&D manual heavily inspired the look of the cacodemon monster. The appearance of the spiderdemon is inspired by the leader-brain from the 1986 version of Invaders from Mars, "mixed with the Gremlins"[4]. The mancubus was derived from the design of a large monster used in The Day Time Ended[5][6]. According to a LinkedIn conversation between Adrian Carmack and Gregor Punchatz, the monsterous carney character of Gunther Twibunt from the 1981 slasher film The Funhouse served as a source of inspiration for the design of the cyberdemon's face.[7]

Demonic elements of the game are inspired by classical mythology and popular cultural depictions of demons: textures depict pentagrams, some resembling the Sigil of Baphomet, while the baron of Hell resembles a horned satyr. Images also appear from the Simon Necronomicon, indicating influence from the works of the Cthulhu mythos of H. P. Lovecraft.

Tom Hall's Doom Bible design document makes repeated references to several of these franchises, also including the science fiction epic series Star Wars, which is known to have influenced the game's texture art direction.[8]

Aesthetic approach[edit]

According to Kevin Cloud, id set out to create "a realistic and dark world... more dirty than pretty." Their intent was that there be "nothing beautiful about Doom" and that its world should be "scary and dark."[9]


Compared to the low resolution weapons of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom's weapons were groundbreaking in being photo-realistic. The weapons were created largely (but not all) based on photographs of toy guns bought from Toys "R" Us.[3]:134 Kevin Cloud's hands are those depicted holding the toy weapons. Identified weapons include:


Main article: Models

Clay modelling and photography[edit]

Several of Doom's monsters were sculpted out of clay formed on top of small posable wooden mannequins.[13] The same model in a particular pose could then be photographed from multiple sides to get multiple sprite rotations for the same animation frame. Frames of animation would have been achieved by adjusting the pose of the model and repeating the process.

Monsters known to have been developed this way include the baron of Hell and the cyberdemon; the player sprites were also developed in the same way. Being made of clay, the photographed models were entirely grey; once photographed and imported, additional details and coloring were applied.[14] Similarities between sprites suggest that the player model provided an initial template that was then used to develop the former human monsters; the same sprites were also re-used again during development of Strife for the rebel characters.[15]

TXFX models[edit]

While the clay modelling process proved sufficient to develop a significant number of the monsters from the first game, the id team sought to improve the quality of the models they were photographing. To do this, they commissioned a company named TXFX to build steel and latex models for use as in-game monsters, led by modeller Gregor Punchatz;[16] Punchatz had previously worked as an artist on Hollywood movies such as the RoboCop series.[17] The referral to Punchatz's company came from his father, Don Ivan Punchatz, who created Doom's cover art.

The first monster developed in this way was the spider mastermind (it is the only monster of this type appearing in the first game). The process was also used for most of the new monsters of Doom II, which according to Sandy Petersen were originally intended to appear in the first game.[18] Specifically, Punchatz models are known to exist for the following monsters:

Punchatz has said that creating the models for Doom led to "a slew of work" for him and his team at a time when TXFX was only starting up. The models were at one time displayed in the id Software lobby.[19]


Demon sprites being drawn over the top of a Jurassic Park toy.

As with the weapon sprites, toys were also used to develop Doom's monsters. Specifically the "pinky" demon was based on a Jurassic Park Dilophosaurus dinosaur toy; the toy was photographed and then drawn over in a more "traditional" manner.[20] Released the same year as Doom and several months prior, Jurassic Park was an immensely popular film and heavily merchandised. None of the original dinosaur remained in the final demon sprites; they simply provided an overall reference structure and pose for the demon.

As far as is known, the demon is the only one of Doom's monsters that was developed in this way, though the Lost Soul was derived from photos of a skull (likely also a toy).[21]


Fountain at the Rodin Museum in Pennsylvania; a photo of this fountain found in the book Nightmares in the Sky was used as a switch texture in the game. Picture credit: Aaron Vowels.

Doom's wall, floor and ceiling textures are a central part of the game's distinctive look and feel. As with the other art material, the id Software artists drew on a variety of photographed sources when developing the game's textures.

Adrian Carmack photographed a pair of snakeskin boots which he owned in order to produce a "serpent-like" texture for one level. Similarly, a knee wound was used to produce another unidentified texture,[3]:135 though there is a texture co-incidentally called SKINSCAB. A Gravis Ultrasound Classic card was photographed to produce source material for the COMP textures used in computer core areas of the episode 1 levels.[22][23]

The toys used for Doom's weapons were also reused to make textures. Parts of the toy used for the BFG were used to make a number of textures including the game's distinctive exit doors.[12] The toy itself has been described has having a "giger-esque" appearance,[24] contributing to the Alien-like influence on the game's visual design. Similarly, the chassis of the spider mastermind was also used as the source for the CEMENT textures.

Several textures, especially sky textures, are derived from royalty-free images distributed on the MediaClips series of CD-ROM published by Aris Entertainment. [25]

One other known source of texture for textures is the book Nightmares in the Sky, a coffee table book published in 1988.[26] The book depicts architectural gargoyles from buildings in various American cities, with accompanying text by author Stephen King.[27] Scans of these gargoyles from the book were used for various textures, especially switch textures. Known locations of three of these gargoyles include:

A few textures from Wolfenstein 3D were reused in Doom, one of them being subsequently reused again for Quake.[29]


Baron of Hell sketch being turned into a wall texture.

Adrian Carmack drew numerous sketches which were adapted into artwork for the game. Notable are several sketches which were adapted into marble wall textures[30]. The artwork for Doom II's final boss, the Icon of Sin was developed through this technique[31].

These sketches are most prominently featured in the game as fullscreen art in the background of the intermission screens and end-of-episode screens. Known examples include the episode 1 intermission screen, episode 2 ending screen, episode 3 ending "bunny" screen[32], along with the Doom II INTERPIC intermission screen backdrop.

Carmack also used his own sketches as the basis for his clay models. Photographs of Carmack sculpting the clay models show him with sketches in the background as he works on the models.[33] Sketches of this kind are known to exist for the Doom marine[34], baron of Hell [35] and Cyberdemon [36].

Cover art[edit]

Doom cover art, as featured on the title screen and retail boxes.
Main article: Cover art

For Doom's title screen, id commissioned Don Ivan Punchatz. Punchatz was an artist known for his illustrations of science fiction, fantasy and heavy metal publications. His background therefore fit with Doom's science fiction / fantasy storyline, along with its heavy metal soundtrack. The artwork was used in its original form as the box cover art for the registered version of the game. Punchatz's son Gregor developed some of the models used in-game.

For Doom II, id commissioned artist Julie Bell to produce a painting of a Doom marine fighting a cyberdemon in the ruins of a city.[37] However, they were unsatisfied with the results, and instead commissioned Gerald Brom to produce another painting along the same theme. Brom's work was accepted, and he was later re-commissioned to produce the cover art for Heretic.


  1. NeXT Computer, Inc. (1 January 1992). "NeXT Cube sales brochure." Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  2. Romero, John (15 January 2009). "doom history 1994." blog post. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Kushner, David. (2003). Masters of Doom (pp.75,101,128,134,135). New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0812972153
  4. doom_collector: Gregor Punchatz tells #Doomzine on Instagram
  5. @Gregor Punchatz: Here is some Doom trivia... on Facebook
  6. doom_collector: Gregor Punchatz tells #Doomzine on Instagram
  7. whatup876 (11 August 2023). Things about Doom you just found out. Doomworld Forums. Retrieved 10 September 2023.
  8. Hall, Tom (10 December 1998). "Doom Bible." Doomworld. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  9. Mendoza, Jonathan. The Official Doom Survivor's Strategies & Secrets. Sybex Inc., 1994. p. 257.
  10. Romero, John. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  11. Blackmantis (7 April 2015). "Real Doom Weapons/toys (with photos)." Doomworld Forums. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Villarreal, Samuel (30 April 2015). "Could this be the actual toy gun used for the BFG?" Doomworld Forums. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  13. Romero, John (11 December 2014). "Here are photos of the DOOMGUY and Baron of Hell taken just last year." Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  14. Romero, John (11 December 2014). "Freshly cleaned-up background of the DOOMGUY clay model, 1993." Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  15. Howard, Simon (25 May 2015). Strife's rebel sprites are derived from the Doom marine?. Doomworld Forums. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  16. Dickreuter, Raffael (13 July 2004). "Interview With Greg Punchatz." Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  17. "Gregor Punchatz - IMDB."
  18. Saral, Mahmut (5 December 2018). "An interview with legendary Sandy Petersen (Call of Cthulhu, Doom, Quake, Age of Empires and much more!)." Donanım Günlüğü. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  19. Bethesda Blog (8 July 2011). "The Halls of id Software." Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  20. Howard, Simon (11 December 2014). John Romero is publishing previously unreleased textures for the community on twitter. Doomworld Forums. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  21. Romero, John (10 December 2014). "Lost Soul scan, 1993." Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  22. Romero, John (10 December 2014). "Circuit board scans for wall textures, 1993."
  23. Blackmantis (2 February 2016). Also found the tech wall texture, it's a Gravis Ultrasound Classic card. Doomworld Forums. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  24. ConSiGno (11 December 2014). Finding the BFG toy gun. Doomworld Forums.
  25. Blackmantis (29 January 2016). [FOUND] Doom Sky source files. Doomworld Forums. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  26. Reinchard (29 September 2015). Source pictures of Doom mascarons/gargoyles. Doomworld Forums.
  27. King, Stephen. Nightmares in the Sky: Gargoyles and Grotesques. ISBN 0670823074
  28. Val (4 December 2022). Real Life Location of one of the Gargoyle switches. Doomworld. Retrieved 6 December 2022.
  29. Browning, Stephen (12 September 2004). uninteresting fact [Doom textures in Shadow Caster]. Doomworld Forums. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  30. Romero, John (11 December 2014). "Some of Adrian's sketchbook scans about to be turned into wall textures, 1993."
  31. Romero, John (11 December 2014). "Almost finished cleaning up Adrian's sketchbook scan and about to make a new wall texture, 1993."
  32. Romero, John (11 December 2014). "Here are Adrian's scans from his sketchbook for various screens, pre-pixel edit."
  33. Romero, John. "This picture was taken during DOOM development in 1993."
  34. Romero, John (10 December 2013). "The original DOOM MARINE sketch that started it all."
  35. Romero, John (10 December 2013). "The Baron of Hell sketch by Adrian Carmack."
  36. Romero, John (10 December 2013). "The Cyberdemon sketch by Adrian Carmack."
  37. Romero, John (11 December 2014). "This original DOOM II box cover was painted by Julie Bell." Retrieved 19 November 2015.