‘Interpreting Nature’ Seasons Piece Development

For the Batsford ‘Interpreting Nature’ competition brief I am doing a piece to represent the four seasons and the transition between them.

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The left two images are the ones that the idea I am running with is being drawn from. The early one had the seasons being represented on each quarter of the Earth. Because I see a lot of this imagery and I myself have used this before I have gone away from it. The bottom left piece is a line quartered up with each quarter representing spring, summer autumn and winter, transitioning into each other. To add life and interest to the piece I plan to add things unique to each season as well as more obvious background pieces.

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I did a couple of rough drawings of what I wanted where then added watercolour to one of them to quickly block in the colours I wanted for each season. We have spring on the left which will be greens with flowers that begin to show in spring being the main colour of the piece. Summer I went with a woodland theme and later, after doing this decided that summer fruits could be a good thing to go along the forest floor. The transition of the summer piece to autumn are cherry blossom trees. Autumn I felt needed to have the brown and golden leaves. I would like the floor to also be covered in leaves and have animals going into hibernation. Winter will have just branch trees and evergreens which survive with the leaves through winter. The sky between Autumn and Winter will transition from rain to sleet to snow.

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This was a quick piece on illustrator to block in colour and shapes so I knew what it would look like. I’m reasonably happy with how spring and summer have turned out but I think the autumn trees look a bit weird. This is partially because in the drawing I did this section shifted down to the right so I had to raise that section up in illustrator meaning it is more freehand than the rest. It may be an idea to design each section individually so this doesn’t happen.

These are some of the blossom effects and other textures I plan to add over the top. The left piece is the original that I did. The right was shown to me by my tutor as a more natural method to do this. It uses illustrators symbol and symbol spray tools to create a varied composition using the symbol.
For the final image I also plan on playing around with adding watercolour texture over the top of the illustrator shapes. I’ve done this in the past using masking layers in photoshop so may look at ways to refine that and take the piece over there when the vectors are done.

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I also tried looking at more subtle ways to add the sun and background colours to the piece using gradients. I like how the sun looks on this one compared to the watercolour piece as it is more of a background feature rather than the main focus.
Other suggestions I have had for the sun are to have a lunar cycle sort of thing in the sky. To add to this idea I thought this could change my composition to be a floating platform with the lunar cycle going around it similar to the diagrams you see of them.

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My piece would follow the line to the left of the earth and the moon phases would go around it. 

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Finally, after I made the watercolour layout I did these just because it was topical and because I hadn’t done it in a while. I thought I could do these and shrink them down really small and repeat them for things like flowers, leaves etc. for the details in the piece. Either that or do them so the textures aren’t random and follow the lines that would be onn the actual flowers.

 

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Game Concept Art – Office Space Image Development

These images were actually sent by the client. The office scene was one that he was fairly sure he knew the sort of look he wanted for it; a room full of work cubicles and then to have a character patrolling through it.

I looked through a couple of additional office layouts for more inspiration. Something I liked was having a city skyline in the background through a window. I thought it could add more depth and variety to an office scene, which is a rather samey environment on its own.

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The first thing I did was block in the walls to the cubicles and where I wanted the floor and ceiling to be. After I got this far I thought what I had got looked a bit like a minimalist abstract art piece. Arriving at this point gave a lot of points of reference for the other lines and shapes in the piece. The more shapes I had the more obvious it was if something looked off compared to everything else in the scene.

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I added basic furniture and matching office cubicle walls then added a simple skyline out the window. I continued in this piece to use bright colours to better tell things apart whilst I was working. Whilst this may be an odd thing to do having the high contrast at this stage just helps me distinguish between layers better.
I was originally going to leave the ceiling one solid colour but it was looking a little bland and very few ceilings are actually fully blank. The tile system was fiddly to do but I think the final product was worth it.
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This was the positioning of the SWAT character before shadow and texture was added on the rest of the image. I wanted him positioned so I could try do something cool with the actual characters shadow against one of the cubicle boards. I think having him where he is also gives you a sense of space and depth within the piece.

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The shadow work on the final piece was more extensive than the vault scene. it is made up of several overlapping gradients to represent the fact that a lot more objects are blocking out the light coming from the window. The shadow of the character is a stretched out silhouette of the normal one that was modified to fit onto the board next to him.
Another change I made to the background was a sunset sky in the city again using gradients. I used the same colour palette in the sunset sky as overlays on the ceiling and floor just to bring the colours together more.

Game Concept Art – Vault Image Development

Development on a bank scene piece originally started as a shot in the actual bank itself rather than a vault. As I dug up more images of the sort of things you find in a bank vaults and safe rooms inevitably began to come up. Being concept art for a game I figured having a scene based in an area with a vault would make sense as a sort of object or goal for the player to reach.

The image that sprung to mind when thinking of a bank vault is the circular reinforced doors you see on them. I looked at a couple of different designs for these, and many seem to have intricate mechanisms that aren’t copied in design from door to door. I decided the door just had to look strong and sturdy with some evidence of a locking system to make it recognizable as a vault door.

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I began designing the inside and getting the perspective right on the outer doors. This was also the first image I sent to the client on the piece to make sure the style and concept for the image I was going for was okay. The green colour scheme was taken from one of the reference images I looked at of the interior of a vault. The browns and greys that you see in most other fault designs seemed less interesting and having green lighting looked more atmospheric. I added things like the rivets so the piece wasn’t just a flat design and would later go on to add more texture and shadow.

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Fully coloured image before texture was added

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Above I came to the final piece with textures and shadows. I created the textures using a custom brush tool for a warn out scraped metal look and the shadows were done using a black and white gradient set to multiply with the opacity changed. I think without the texture and shadow the image would be too flat. If I was to do this piece again I may use photoshop from the beginning with hand drawn elements image traced in illustrator. Whilst I like using illustrator I think the style I work in for it looks better used on projects with a more ‘graphic design’ look in mind for their final outcome.

Game Concept Design – The Swat Troopers

I had a look at a couple of different variations of swat gear for the guards I would be doing. With the key word I was given relating to the characters just being SWAT I wanted a character that you could associate with the name. I took this as looking well equipped, modern looking and the blue and black colour scheme.
Because the characters were supposedly adversaries in the game (from the player perspective) I decided to go for a faceless uniform so they are clearly the anonymous npc bad guys. I considered using a gas mask for the sinister look but decided against it as it may be going to far into painting them as truly sinister. Whilst the player would be working against them, it may be for the players selfish gain and these characters could just be on a payroll. I ended up borrowing a similar looking visor from the bottom left image for a faceless but not too evil look.

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Sketches of characters to clean up and add too digitally

I put together some rough sketches in pencil of the characters and then solidified the line-work and details I wanted with fine liner. A feature I noticed on real life SWAT team imagery is the fact they are covered in pouches, something they also share with other military-esque organisations. I added plenty of these which helps a lot breaking up what may have just been a flat torso otherwise.
The feet were something I left completely for the digital side of things. At the time I didn’t want to get too caught up on them and knew I could edit the shape and perspective of them better digitally. I also decided to redesign the gun on the right character due to its perspective looking off and also to use a more similar design to the right guy.

To begin colouring I image traced the roughs in illustrator. This left the darkest lines of the shapes I wanted and got rid of the messier ones. I then proceeded to fill in the shapes in the colours I wanted using a mixture of the shape tools, pen tool and pathfinder tools. I stuck to a limited palette similar to that seen in the research of SWAT teams but made the colours slightly brighter so they stood out from the background. The Final stage was to move over the image into photoshop. Here I used a custom paint brush tools to add a weathered looking texture when shading the character. I also added darker colours are the edges of the character to make it seem like he is front lit.

The redesign of the second characters gun was a little tricky, in part due to the original lines in the piece being very distracting. I found a gun design similar to the first characters held in a similar pose to the original of the seconds and redesigned it in parts. I used brightly coloured shapes just to help me differentiate between the layers and the parts during this process. I also had to redesign the hands to fit the new gun. This all also meant that the line work wasn’t really suitable for use in the final piece. To solve this problem I used the line-work I could as templates for the detail shapes and then redid the original line-work using a custom pencil brush.

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Second Character with digital line-work added over the top

When I removed the line-work on the second character I realised I quite liked his silhouette. I didn’t want to just use a silhouette for the piece especially considering I had already finished and shown the first character complete to the client. I instead made the second scene darker so whilst the character details are still visible he is walking through the shadows. You notice his silhouette but still see the details if you look closely.

Final Characters pictured above in their respective scenes.

Game Environment Concept Art

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Office Scene
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Bank Vault Scene 

These pieces are early concept pieces for a media student friend of mines game design presentation. He would be using the images in his presentation as a visual aid to better get across to those he is showing what his and his groups game will feature. It also gives them a possible visual basis from which to move forward with the game.

The description the game given to me was

“An fps game kind of like hitman (stealth game, rather than all out shooter), with a comic book style. One level would feature escaping from a bank and I definitely want an office scene”

Later discussions brought up the idea of men in a sort of swat uniform style patrolling or guarding parts of the game which I enjoyed doing and feel added life (literally and figuratively) to the scenes. Other discussions with the client involved feedback from images I sent during the process of making the game which I will go onto in separate development posts.

The pieces are to be submitted to my personal practice folder because it simulated interaction with a client and gave me an idea on what that may be like, how it felt to work for someone and gave me an idea of what it is like working towards someone else’s deadline rather than just your own.

 

Theo Prins artist research

Theo Prins is a game concept artist, known for his work on a lot of the Guild Wars 2 artwork. His brush work is done digitally in photoshop though he says he does a lot of brainstorming and development in pencil. The structures he makes are often of a huge scale, at least relative to what we are used to or other more ‘realistic’ fantasy worlds.

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A close up on someofhis pencil work shows a lot of exposed pipework and worn out walls and damaged streets. If you break down his work you can see a lot of simple shapes being used to make up the full image and a varied shapes within the images used which, to me, differenciates between different parts of the work well, giving the eyes set areas to focus on.

He caught my eye because of the details he puts into the side of buildings. I’m always looking for additional ways to make my buildings look more interesting but after a while you feel like you are reusing the same shapes. Looking at his work and looking at existing architecture is good inspiration.

Jennifer Maravillas Research

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I stumbled across Jennifer Maravillas whilst I was looking up the Kowloon City; the above image is her interpretation of it. By building up each persons small part of living space and making them distinct from each other bycolour and texture she has shown the vast number of people who lived here and how overpopulated it was.

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Her other architectual pieces depict flattened archictecture of a city or multiple cities, creating a composition of a wide selection of buildings in a small composition. It looks like a good way to create a map or layout an area as a whole.

The idea of a flatter layout is a way I prefer working. I find it allows me to fit more detail into a smaller space making a piece more intricate. Whilst you are limited with the sort of perspective and in some cases how you represent certain shaped buildings, I find that the extra buildings add something in replacement.