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Ted Backman

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Ted Backman
Ted Backman.jpg
Biographical information
Place of birth


  • Art Director
  • Conceptual Artist
  • Illustrator
  • Animator
Time period

1996 – 2015

Ted Backman is an artist who worked at Valve.


Backman was a freelance artist and animator in the Seattle area before joining Valve in the summer of 1996.[1] He was hired months before the name or style of their first game was even contemplated and prior to the company's formal creation. Gabe Newell had roughly worked out what genre he personally wanted to do, and he looked to Ken Birdwell for a recommendation of a concept artist who could start on the project.[2]

Birdwell remembered his friend T.K. Backman's little 12-year-old skater punk brother who used to draw things. He had just graduated from the University of Washington's art department where he studied painting.[1]


Main category: Ted Backman designs

Backman was responsible for designing, building, and animating many of the characters, weapons[3] and locations for Half-Life.[1] He has modeled, textured, and animated approximately half of them.[4] He designed most of the Synth met in Half-Life 2.[5]


Backman's likeness as seen in the Danger Ted Construction Set.

In Half-Life, Backman's surname appears in the Anomalous Materials Laboratory on a locker and can be heard in announcements as Easter eggs. A photo of his was turned into a texture but was left unused in the files. His surname also appears on a sign in the Hospital featured in Half-Life 2: Episode One.

His older brother, T.K. Backman, also worked at Valve.[6] His likeness was used for an early design of a Black Mesa Security Guard in Half-Life, and for Citizen (Male 2) and cut Conscript variants in Half-Life 2.

During Half-Life 2's development, there was a time when the player was able to glue physics objects together. This gave birth to the "Danger Ted Construction Set". They had the Citizen model based on Backman in the middle of a desert level, and there was nothing but cars, canisters, other miscellaneous objects. The developers used Backman's body in humorous physics experiments.[7][8] The map can be found in the WC map pack, inside David Sawyer's folder.[9]



Half-Life 2[edit]

Half-Life 2: Episode One[edit]

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[edit]

Half-Life 2: Episode Three[edit]


Selected gameography[edit]

Company biographies[edit]

Ted Backman - Art Director/Conceptual Artist/Illustrator/Animator
Ted has been a freelance artist and animator in the Seattle area for the last four years. Ted developed many of the more unusual monsters for Half-Life, including the Head Crab, Mr. Friendly, and Big Momma. He is also a black-belt karate instructor.
Ted Backman - Art Director/Conceptual Artist/Illustrator/Animator
Prior to joining Valve in the summer of 1996, Ted studied painting at the University of Washington. During his time at Valve, Ted has been responsible for designing and building many of the people, places and things that inhabit Black Mesa, City 17, and the outlying environments. A Seattle native, Ted finds drizzle comforting and insists Paynes grey is his favorite color.
Ted Backman - Conceptual Artist/Illustrator /Animator
No changes.

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Biography on Valve's official website (April 9, 2007) (archived)
  2. Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar (uncorrected proof), page 18
  3. Interview with Ted Backman on Sam Robinson's personal website (archived)
  4. Interview with Ted Backman on Frag (1998) (archived)
  5. Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar
  6. T.K. Backman on his video game work (August 15, 2016)
  7. Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar (uncorrected proof), page 331
  8. David Speyrer on "Danger Ted Action Play Set" (August 17, 2016)
  9. WC map pack (sawyer/dangerted) (June 7, 2002)