Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Draw Challenge: Monster Currently Under My Bed

I am still trying to catch up with the summer draw challenge. The self imposed limit is about 2 - 3 hours per illustration. It can be difficult, for example I really like the start of this one and didn't want to stop. If I had more time I would probably rework the bed and figure on his back. I think I could have designed it better and could really boost the composition with a better pose of the figure in the bed.

I thought it would be interesting to flip the idea of a monster being an intruder under ones bed and instead turn the human in the scenario into more of a parasite. The bed is kind of fused into the back, turning the person into the intruder. I thought it would funny to draw the monster at the point of having had enough and on his way out the door. In the fashion of the old Looney Tune gags, this is done with the bowler cap grabbed from the hat stand and the suitcase slammed shut, clothes hanging out, followed by the march out the door.  The monsters posture probably could be improved to match the attitude of the gag.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Draw Challenge Day 1 and 3: Scheming Scientist and Ice Cream

In order to catch up, I combined the Day 1 and 3 topics (scheming scientist and ice cream). As usual with these challenges I feel like I'm leaving it hanging a bit. There are somethings I would like to fix as far as pushing the pose, details in the characters head and some lighting detail. The idea came from the saying that everyone is a scientist as a child in their curious and exploitative demeanor. Then for the scheming part I played off of child mischief and the mischief of an evil scientist. I ended up with a kid fearlessly plucking a scorpion off the ground by it's stinger and then with the slow but steady gears of a child's mind, deciding to hide it in someone's boot (evil part!). Then when Ice cream came up as today's topic, I though it would work nicely if the kid also dumped his cone in the boot, something more expected of a toddler. So with that I am all caught up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

BioHarmonious- Entry I: Discovering A New World, In Time for A Deadline

(Concept stages for amphibious inhabitant of the natural planet)

BioHarmonious is a small game project I'm involved in for Art Works for Change ( As far as the overall development is concerned it is still a bit early to delve into the details so I can't explain too much of what it is in terms of how it is played and what the story entails. However, there is enough to talk about in regards to the art production at this point which will make for interesting dissection.

It is a small development team of five, Amanda Dittami (Lead Designer/Project Lead), Matt Farmer (programmer), Blair Kuhlman (Art and Design), Craig Deskins (Sound Engineer) and myself (Lead Artist, Animator). The game is about twin planets, one consisting mostly of manufactured elements and the other mostly consists of natural elements. The goal of the game is getting the planets in harmony with each other while rescuing the inhabitants of the manufactured plan from their self destructive behavior.

 In my role, I must direct the visuals and create art for the world we are building.  Hopefully if I do my part, we will have a unique style to support that world. Along with getting my hands dirty with silhouette work, painted concepts and asset creation; I do some writing to help define the architecture of the world, the rules found in nature, personality of the inhabitants and the aesthetic we hope to deliver with the interactive experience. This of course is done in close contact with the lead designer (Amanda Dittami) and along side the help of Blair Kuhlman (Designer and Artist) and Craig Deskins (Sound Engineer), to ensure that my vision for the game meshes with that of my team members. So although I have the final call at times with the art direction, it is very much a collaborative effort driven by plenty of concept reviews and feedback sessions.

When creating worlds I prefer to work through an organic, flowing experience. In other words I only write some base ideas for what the world will be and don't set up a rigid plan. Then through sketching and sometimes final concepts I let the imagery reveal the world to me. So at times, some detail about the inhabitants will come out as I work out the detail of the architecture and vice versca. Other times it happens while review reference images. This will then propel other concepts, sometimes leading to revisions to adjust to the subtle shift in course. This is easier to do in a small team. When only dealing with two people, shifting gears and changing directions on the fly is not as much of a headache. The important principle that remains consistent, is that there is a harmony to the details of the world and the individual parts. Aesthetically things need to mesh, but in this game I am making a point in particular to have things mesh in behavior and in the laws of nature that we created.

(Work in progress - Concept of a GyroBeetle, found on the natural planet. The symbiotic relationship between living creatures and planets developed into a key theme)

At some point there is a wrangling in of the art direction. I review concepts, create new ones making sure themes are consistent, but still different enough to avoid monotony or over saturation. Then I gather my final cuts and iterations for the week and upload them for the team to check out. Usually meetings take place weekly in which critique the current iteration of the art. By the end of the meeting I have enough notes and have read enough reactions to start to then incorporate the team's ideas into the art. This leads to yet another round of iterations and new concepts for the next meeting. 

One of the driving themes for this game is an exaggerated version of something that can be found in our civilization. The idea of amazing levels of technical advancement, coupled by mistakes or ideas that seem absurd when coupled with the previously mentioned. The world is based in a familiar aesthetic of earth's natural elements but I am trying to push it to the border where oddity meets uncomfortable strangeness. I don't want it to feel alien or creepy. It needs to feel like a unusual discovery that draws you in with apprehensive curiosity. The audience needs to relate to the issues the civilization faces, the laws of nature need to be vaguely familiar, but outside of that it should feel upside down. 

One source of inspiration that helps illustrate the point, is really contemplating the nature of ants and their behavior. Seemingly odd at first glance, but vaguely familiar, eerily similar, possibly mindless, but always having a hint of something more to be understood. Something more complex about their actions that is yet to be revealed.

By the time I write again I hope that i will find the art of the game to be settling in to the targeted aesthetic. Although, I hope not too tightly so that it still has space to morph into it's rightful place. Considering the nature of the smaller development cycle and the ambitious target of quality, there is a bit of an approach of doing pre-production and production alongside each other. There is a need to create things econmocially and quickly. The biggest challenge is finding ways to do so without things feeling cheap or rushed. I hope that the final product is one that feels rich and properly shows the amount of effort put into the art.We are approaching the stage of finalizing concepts. Soon it will be a matter of bringing them together and getting the seperate pieces to mesh. Then on to the task of producing the final game assets and injecting life through animation and secondary detail.

Pardon grammatical errors or mistakes. I am busy and only can proof read so much. That ran a bit long, I will try and keep it shorter. Maybe. You can stop

(Teaser image of early concepts/silhouettes for the game's solar system)

Summer Draw Challenge Day 2: Paint Over Concept

The topic for Day 2 is Sci Fi background. I did a standard retro-looking alien invasion scene. I mostly focused on the mood and playing around with technique.

I'm already behind on the challenge so I decided to use a production technique to spit out a rough concept. I did a paint over using a photograph. This way I focus on the mood and the additions and have the perspective blocked out for me in the photo. It is a common technique for film and video game environment concepts. Sometimes they use photos and other times they will block out their scene in 3D and paint over that. I'm not used to doing environments let alone paint overs so it was a very different experience.

I usually focus on creatures and characters so this was a change of gear and a nice break. There is still a lot to be fixed and detailed in the image but for a quick mock up I'm happy with what I got out of it. Quick sketches like this are good with familiarizing yourself with the different challenges of different subject material.  Still have a lot to learn, but with a few more hours I think I could turn the image into something worthwhile. I would definitely push the image further away from the photo.