Monday, 23 November 2015

Game Dev - Defining your look

Working in a small independent team offers more than enough creative freedom. While this can open up many possibilities, it can also be overwhelming if this is the first time you have had this much creative control over such a large project. Especially if you are a one man art team. So I will be making a series of blog posts during our development to share what I have learned and some of the mistakes so you can hopefully avoid them in the future.

One of the first major challenges I came across was solidifying our look. My team has been great with constantly providing input and feedback, but it is up to the artist to define how all of these ideas translate to the game environment. Being a one man art team makes this a rather large task and possibly the most important contribution you will make. I am still working on defining exactly what our game will look like, but I will leave some tips and mistakes I have made in the process so far.

The first and most obvious of course is reference. Make sure you gather hundreds of images that possess elements of the style you wish to achieve. You can never really have too much reference, so spend a day just grabbing images. Even hunting for the images will help you think more about defining that actual look in the mind. One of the mistakes I made when gathering reference was not being specific enough with what I was gathering. I would take tons of images from games that I was inspired by and photos that followed a certain color palette. Now these are useful but when it came time to blocking out some models, I hit a creative block when designing the style of the architecture and various other props that will populate the environment. I had an idea of what I wanted, but nothing to help guide my mind on how to apply that to a real object and keep it cohesive with the rest of the scene. So fill the reference folder with everything you think you may need...and then some.

Now you have some models in their low poly stage and you are working on a few textures and maps to get the first prototype done. Normally for my personal projects I would start texturing and see what works. However when everything needs to look like it comes from the same world (you wouldn't see a bunch of glowing tron colors in a angry birds universe) a bit of pre planning can go a long way. One thing that may help is getting the color palette down as soon as possible and spending extra time refining it. For our game we have two factions going against each other so it is very important that these can be distinguished instantly from a distance. The reference images helped design repeating elements across the meshes and now the color palette will help tie this together to solidify the fact that these buildings and ships could co exist in the same environment and with their proper faction.

These tips may sounds obvious, but they are often missed in games. Not spending enough time on designing a personal look could make the game look like every other "default unity asset" look you see in early access these days. Even designing a "realistic" looking game like GTA takes heavy art direction to keep it from looking bland.


Take these above photos as an example and yes I know comparing GTA to big rigs is not fair but I wanted to show the two extremes to get my point across. Dont pay attention to the model quality or even texture resolution but do take a close look at the colors that pop out to you. Both games are trying to mimic the look we see in every day life. However when looking at the color palette in GTA you can see a bit more artistic direction. Once again, not talking about reflections, the pretty water or any effects, but just the color used. You can tell that GTA is slightly more saturated than real life along with emphasis put on the contrast, where big rigs is more of a "look out the window and copy that" color palette. This does not just happen or come along with a stronger engine. It is a creative decision made by the team. Probably a bad example but the point stands, even if you plan to mimic real life, still spend time defining the artistic direction and the results will show. Lets face it, real life often looks bland in the colors that we see, why do you think so many photographers run their photos through Photoshop.

So thats it for today, keep an eye out for the next post in our game development journey. Once we work some things out, I will be following up with some details on this game I speak of.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Game Dev - Ship Mesh Preview

So finally, I am posting a quick teaser for some assets we are creating for our game. Here we just have some simple models that do require more work, but the silhouette has been decided and we wanted to share a quick screen.

The ship you see on the right will be a player controlled ship. Most of my inspiration when creating the basic design was taken from the R-Wing, Gradius and surprisingly the Nissan Skyline Gtr. My intention was creating a design that would convey speed, something that will support the mechanics of the game. The left ship will be AI controlled, but more on that later.

Look out for the high poly bake soon, and hopefully some in engine screens.

Friday, 31 July 2015

The Tunnel

Modeled, textured, lit and rendered in maya, with final touches done in photoshop

Monday, 27 July 2015


Just living up to the Great White name, here is another shark, the one featured in my banner.

Clock Prop - W.I.P

Here are a few in software screen shots for a clock prop I am working on in my free time. A lot of work to go, but thought I would post some progress updates on this one.

Sketchbook Dump July/2015

I have not posted too much work recently, so here are some recent sketchbook drawings I have done. New work will be coming soon.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Photoshop - House destruction

So for this task I had to take a photo of a brand new house and make it look like nobody would ever want to live in it. This Was the result. Photo 1 is the original and 2 is the "restoration"