Production and Post Production (BA8)

The Brief

My brief for BA8 is the continuation of my previous project BA7 to further refine my idea and bring closure to three years of academic and practical study of concept art. What I hope to achieve through BA8 is a set of complimentary concept artwork for my developing game Arc.

My game ‘Arc’ last project was used to establish a foundation for consistent concept designs and artwork set within the game-story universe. This is in order to replicate the type of work that I hopefully will undergo once I have a place within the games industry as a concept artist. What I hope to demonstrate in BA8 is the knowledge gained from BA7. Upon this, I hope to expand into other aspects of concept art such as better improving my painting/drawing skills. One area in which I lacked during BA7 was environment art, the reason for this was the work load I had set myself was too much. As a result of this I felt that I could only learn the basis for environment painting in BA8.

What I also hope to practice in BA8 are a range of techniques used by industry recognised concept artists to speed up development. By doing this I will be setting a target for the amount of finished concept pieces I finish in a week. This target will be based on industry practice and a workload I can cope with. The object of this is to adjust myself to the workload of being a concept artist working as part of a creative development team.

The subject that I concentrated on in BA7 was narrative. The reason I put  a lot of focus on narrative as it embellishes the world I had to design. The narrative became highly detailed as to set a template for the imaginings of my concepts. However, in BA8 I plan to use the setting of my narrative to introduce multiple scenarios that can possibly take place within the set theme template. In short, The core narrative of a space fairing human flotilla with the intention of colonising an alien planet will be the template for many different scenarios that will not necessarily be placed within the same game-story universe.

For BA8 I have invested money into buying new equipment and sketching programmes to improve my work and expand my understanding of other digital applications for drawing.

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Production

What I hope to achieve through BA8 is the understanding for methods to keep a consistent work flow. The aim of this is that by the end of BA8 I will have a full understanding of techniques that will enable me to keep up with the fast pace of being a concept artist. The reason I place this with such importance is due to me realising that my work output might not be up to scratch with becoming a concept artist. The realisation came upon working on my Reflective Report on the practices of concept artist. As becoming a concept artist is what I would like to do in the games industry, I’m using this opportunity to develop my skills.

After some research into the average concept artist workload I’ve found the usual turn out of work a day is two to three pieces of artwork. However this depends on the level of finish you want to achieve. After speaking with my tutor about the subject he recommended three pieces of art work a day, with other sources roughly recommending the same amount.

Personally, with the addition of documenting my progress and getting to grips with the fundamentals of creating dynamic scenes, my aim for time being is one completed painting a day. As the project goes on I hope to heighten the bar for amount of work produced in one day covering 7 days. After this I will allow time for the academic side of my study and research possible solutions to any problems that may arise.

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Day 1, Friday 3rd:

I started the course of production paced painting with my first scene.

Drones in the Dust.

This piece took around 8 hours to get to a level of finish I was comfortable with. Much of the time spend painting this was struggling. spending a long time on a piece of work requires a lot of attention, enough time to deal with the fundamentals of blocking in basic shapes. I found that I became complacent which came from jumping to details, I mistake of feeling that progression comes from refining objects.

Overall I feel the scene works up to a certain extent. The presence of thick dust is apparent, in combination the stance of the distant drones implies an ambush has taken place, as has the stance of the soldiers. What I feel doesn’t work so well is the midground, of which I’ve recently changed to correct it.

Critique: 

Primarily what’s missing in this painting is the lack of a mid ground. The Rule of Thirds is a universal rule of composition, The Rule of Thirds allows the viewer to relate to the distance, makes a piece more aesthetically balanced, and makes a image more organic.

Rule of Thirds

In the painting sample I’ve highlighted the pieces i’ve gone wrong in. The vehicle has been pushed out by bringing up the brightness, which makes it more pleasing to the eye as it starts to create the mid ground.

The focus on this painting was the inclusion of the man-like drones, newly introduced to the ‘Arc’ project.

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Day 2, Saturday 4th:

The second piece that I started on this day was to give a much more warmer feel whilst retaining the dry atmosphere of the previous painting. This painting focuses on the concept of an agricultural shuttle that didn’t see much development during BA7.

Agriculture Pillar

The above image took roughly 6-9 hours (I wasn’t recording). As is developed I started notices places where I felt wasn’t as natural as I would like such as the landscape itself. I would like to attempt this painting again as I’ve felt I’ve learned enough from the compositional mistakes I made in this one. Although it works up to a certain extent, there are conflicting factors that make the image not look quite right.

Point of focus

One of the main conflicting elements of this piece is the lens flare which is pointing away from the point of focus. This may lead the eye away or can viewer to become unsettled in the flow of the images. I feel the strongest asset is the ridge as it achieves a sense of distance and direction, enforcing the point of focus.

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Day 3, Sunday 5th:

My third painting I began blocking out shapes without a definite concept in mind. Ultimately I decided to go for a landscape that contrasted with the previous painting, creating a cooler wind swept landscape.

Third painting

The main focal point is the aircraft which flows away from the image. I think what this painting lacks is a substantial asset to draw the viewer in, such as the one above. What I feel this could benefit from is more direction from implied lines leading to the focal point.

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Day 4, Monday 6th:

The quick sketching of the aircraft flying away from  the scene inspired me to paint what it could look like from another angle.

Aircraft

Using the back of the aircraft as a reference point I detailed another view point to further understand the typology of the object. This design wasn’t too taxing and perhaps because of that it wasn’t greatly pushing my boundaries. However I did experiment with painting different materials, keeping to a high gloss silver or metallic body.

Orthographical Sketch

After producing a rendering of the aircraft concept, the next step in asset design is to produce an orthographical sketch. Orthographical sketches are primarily drawn up in the later stages of pre-production after a design is accepted and given approval by lead creative director. In designing assets for use for 3-D modellers and animators, an orthographic sketch is often the final stage.

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Day 5, Tuesday 7th: This day was left free as to catch up on the academic side of this project. At this point  I felt it was a good idea to revise the methods that are employed by concept artists to keep a standard flow of work. One method I hopefully will be trailing is multitasking, meaning painting two paintings on the fly. Hopefully this will resolve the ability to speed up work flow and keep a fresh look at a painting that otherwise might become too ingrained , preventing me from seeing obvious mistakes.

At the moment, in self-critiquing I found that my biggest problem is pushing forward with a paint before I’ve completely established the foundations. Which in a knock on affect I spend a lot of valuable time correcting  the painting. Hopefully by paying more attention to both the focal subject and the surrounding environment I will overcome this.

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Day 6, Wednesday 8th: This day was more productive, although I feel I’ve improved compositionally, I still must keep in mind the building process of making a good painting and avoid the same trap of  progressing before I am able to.

Personel Carrier

The fault I can see with this is that I’ve moved on refining the details without much thought for representing the true form of the designed vehicle. Due the the complex typology of the aircraft, I found it difficult to paint at this angle.

Focal points

However its strongest points lay with a stronger composition than my previous drawings. The unbalanced slant gives a impression of movement, whilst the dust clouds draw your eye into the focal point.

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Creating A Visually Dynamic Painting

I have looked into perspective and what makes a dynamic viewpoint. Viewpoint seems to be a greatly important factor in determining the exact location of the viewer. For example, are they at a high altitude or is the viewer low to the ground. This generally is established by the horizon line which in itself it just a line, however the placement is extremely important to create the desired atmosphere. As well as creating what I feel to be a dynamic scene visually (if used correctly) it can create a sense of spatial awareness.

Comparing different types of perspective to analyse the benefits of using them in varying types of concept design sketches. The aspects I would like to look at is how perspective should be used in thumbnail sketches, orthographical/model sheets, and illustrations.

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Artistic inspirations

 I intend to cover the subject of concept artist that inspire me of whom themselves have had a large amount of experience. As my subject covers a primarily sci-fi themed world I will research artists that have demonstrated an understanding for design in this subject area.

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John Harris: Information from his web site “John was born in London, July 29th 1948. He began painting at 14 and entered Luton College of Art at 16. After completing a foundation course, he entered the Fine Art course at Exeter in 1967 to study painting, and he graduated from there in 1970.”

“n 1976 he began to produce paintings which expressed the preoccupations with scale and space that remain with him to the present day. His first exhibition was a shared show with the artist and architect Nicholas Gilbert Scott, held at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter University in 1977.”

“What eventually arises, may, or may not be exactly what was originally seen. But in this equation is the possibility that something unexpected may occur, which could be more magical than the artist might have imagined. And always, his guiding muse is the sense of scale, the atmosphere of being in an unknowable and unlimited space.”

http://vimeo.com/27249779

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Design Features and character design
I have found an interesting article in ImagineFX on the processes of creating concept art and the limitations and boundaries that might be faced in the industry.

This section is also for the documentation of aesthetic design decisions such as clothing, vehicles, characters etc.

As the game is primarily about the collection of resources through mining, I have begun to design the uniforms the miners would have. Looking as real world examples such as work clothes for hazardous environments. I have looked at Hazmat suits and fire fighting equipment for inspiration.

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The miners clothing will resemble and high visibility suit designed to work in hostile environments. The difference is that the suits will look a cross between astronauts suit and medieval armour. The medieval design aesthetic comes from the idea of being able to protect the wearer’s extremities from falling rocks or materials. This was the initial idea that carried through to the final designs.

First I began with the preparation of making a template to create multiple designs in a short amount of time, a technique I have seen in books such as ‘The Art of The Mass Effect Universe” and “The Skillful Huntsman”.

Mass Effect Character Concept

The Skillful Huntsman – Hunter Design

Template colour scheme designs as well as thumbnails

Painting a template provides a quick and time-effective means of producing multiple designs in a short amount of time. First step is creating the final character design then to duplicate the accept design and redesign colour schemes. Upon the benefits of time management, the freedom to experiment and choose the most suited colour scheme for the design.

I experimented with different mediums to produce a body template and chose pen. Although I’m familiar in tradition mediums such as pencil and pen, I have rarely included this in my work. As a result I wished to include development stages done in grey-scale pens.

Character Design: Portrait sketches

The first sketches were more a warm up and provided a chance to get to grips with the style I wanted to achieve.

Template design

The stance was important to achieve a correct anatomical pose. The idea was that miners would need heavy equipment for the task that they would have to perform. A stance that could reflect the the weight distribution of heavy equipment on the human frame was the objective of my sketches. Since the equipment was an important factor in positioning the anatomy, I sketched out what appearance  and dimension it would have in relation to the figure. I planned to scan the pen templates and render them in Adobe Photoshop, my primary tool.

Uniform design

After sketching a pose I was happy with using, I continued to use pen to sketch potential uniform designs. Design for clothing was based around, like much of the designs, on functionality with emphasis on a futuristic aesthetic. For this I applied a relevant visual library in designing.

Ubacs

Ubacs is a type of shirt used by runners and military personal alike, used for their ability to ventilate the wearer in warm environments. What I found particularly interesting visually about Ubacs was the sections in material. In my designs I would draw similar material patterns at different parts of the body.

The digital copy of the template

The above image is the digital copy of the sketched and inked template I drew on paper. When I felt I was at a level of finish to continue I duplicated the template and lined them up on a 2500 pixel by 6000 pixel plain. I believed I achieved the desired stance that gave the indication of heavy machinery.  In the early stages of designing this concept, I found that the Equipment was integral to the overall design. What I had hope to achieve for this particular asset concept, was to make it distinctive in silhouette and distinguishable from a military grade weapon.

Later I was able to establish a gas canister and sharpened protrusion out the muzzle that resembled a harpoon.

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Showreel development

As part of BA8 I must produce a showreel highlighting my work in a presentable 2-3 minute video. What I hope to present through developing my showreel is a showcasing of my ability to produce high level concept art and display aptitude in directing a showreel that enhances my artwork. In consideration to directing my showreel an understanding of cinematic flow, music, length and timing and ultimately the capability to construct all of these elements in a harmonious composition.

The whole purpose of a showreel is to display your work as industry to potential clients and employers without the showreel being time consuming. The reason for this is, most of the time potential clients time is valuable and often in the games industry time is a commodity that is rarely afforded. As such the capability to show as much of your work in a short amount of time is a good idea.

However, what I would like to do with creating my showreel is to strike a balance between introducing my art in a fast pace setting and creating a dramatic mood complimentary to my work. The reason I want to create a dramatic introduction is to convey the direction of narrative I’ve taken in my concept game ‘Arc’.

I have decided that a trailer like introduction to my showreel will yield the best results.  The idea of the trailer is to encourage curiosity in the viewer and ultimately find our more. The trailer is a montage of video, audio, and text of the full version of the product you are trying to promote, in my case it will be my art for my game concept ‘Arc’.

Example Trailers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GokKUqLcvD8

The music would play a huge role of achieving the desired feel that I wanted to convey. The first section of the trailer I wanted to convey a sense of vast emptiness and loneliness that would fit the theme but also provoke intrigue in the viewer. What I felt was necessary was to achieve this was the use music in synchronisation with the images shown i.e. my concept designs. The two songs I had chosen for my showreel was the theatrical and epic sounding ‘Adagio In D Minor by’ John Murphy and the fast-paced and futuristic sounding ‘Bladerunner end theme’ written by Vangelis.

In using these compositions I will need to obtain permission from the labels that own their copyrights. Adagio In D Minor is owned by FoxMusic where as the Bladerunner End Theme is owned by Warner Music Group. In gaining Permission it is important to understand the rules that apply to your showreel. As the Music in my video is synchronised to the display of my concept art, I will need to obtain synchronisation rights with possibly performance rights.

“The use of music in film, TV, video and webcast production involves two aspects of copyright law: synchronization
rights and performance rights. Performance rights come into play when a production is shown to the public — typically
via broadcast or cablecast. Performance rights are primarily of concern to film distributors and TV and cable stations.
Synchronization or “sync” rights, on the other hand, are involved whenever recorded music is used in combination with
visual images in a production. It is important for producers to understand what is involved in obtaining sync rights.” 

Performance rights might have to be obtained to display my showreel with audio in public spaces such as its possible show case at the upcoming degree show.

I’ve sent the follow e-mail to Warner Music on permission to use the blade runner end titles track.

“My name is Tobias and I’m a third year student gradating this year with a BA Hon in Games Art and Design from Norwich University College of The Arts. With permission I would like to use the title ‘Blade Runner (End Titles)’ for a non-profit personal showreel for my upcoming degree show. Upon request, I can send a copy of my showreel via e-mail. If preferred, after event it will be withdrawn from public domain. The showreel itself will use synchronisation rights and performance rights.

Yours sincerely
Tobias Jones”

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Context Through Concept Art & Presentation

I’ll be researching ways to contextualise Arc’s game world through developing concept art and presentation. Examples such as the 1982 film Sci-fi film Blade Runner and digital game Mass Effect are cases where in order to create the sense of believability a great amount of detail was put into creating the world that the story took place in. In order to make the story world believable (should that be the desired outcome) assets are designed to hold relevance to how everyday life is lived.  This is known as Set Dressing. In the illustration book ‘The Art of The Mass Effect Universe” is a chapter on miscellaneous technology.

“Some concepts for machinery were used on the main worlds as set dressing, while others were made for the uncharted worlds where Shepard retrieves technology lost on the surface of the planet.”

“Given the size of the Mass Effect universe, we needed an enormous amount of set dressing and ambient machinery like chairs, beds, storage, and mechanical equipment to make the areas look lived in and believable. They aren’t the most glamourous pieces, but if they didn’t exist, players would feel something was missing.” 

As mentioned above, the designs weren’t extensively developed as the primary designs. An example of Set Dressing concept from BladeRunner and Mass Effect. What I have found different than most standard concepts was the presentation.

Mass Effect: Misc Set Dressing

Mass Effect: Misc Set Dressing

Set Dressing: Blade Runner Noodle Bar

As seen above, the concepts are presented as clearly as possible through measurements, notes, and possible animation descriptions.

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Tools of Industry

Early in Ba8 I wanted to expand my skills by using other applications that could help communicate my concepts. I’ll be looking at resources to help understand the desired traits in a concept artist.

“Breaking in as an artist is next to impossible without a portfolio, and this is one of the things schools and universities can help you develop. Tim Coman, Art Director at Day 1 Studios, said, “It’s important to have a strong portfolio that shows your work is on par or better than the work the company is currently doing.”

“It is especially important for aspiring artists to be able to use one or more of the 3-D modeling software programs.  Game Designer Tim Fields said, “Master as many different types of content building software as you can. Every one you learn will make learning the next one easier.”  The hot new tool may be obsolete by the time you get your first job, so you need to be flexible, adaptable, and eager to learn new software and hardware.”

I’ve looked at what multiple requirements are listed in concept artist job descriptions. I’ve put asterisk’s next to relevant requirements.

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Skill-set required for the role:


• Excellent traditional art skills.*
• Strong concept painting skills in a range of styles.*
• Experienced with 2D and 3D art packages.*
• Some experience of user interface design and.
• Experience of creating in-game art work 2D implementation/3D.

• Enjoys working in a team environment and willing to pitch in and help out others when necessary.
• Able to work to deadlines and schedule own workload.
• Has worked on at least one shipped title. (console or mobile)

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Skill-set required for the role:

  • Excellent life drawing sketches*
  • Advanced understanding of colour and perspective
  • Demonstration of a concept’s evolution from rough ideation to a final tight drawing or “blueprint”
  • An excellent understanding of the principles of design
  • Good verbal and written English skills
  • 2+ years industry experience
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Skill-set required for the role:
  • Design and define visually striking art styles for our games
  • Rapidly create concept art for pitches and prototypes
  • Concept, design and create original game characters, backgrounds and worlds
  • Create high quality production art assets, animation and UI for use in games
  • Work closely within a team to build super high quality games

We’re looking for creatively driven artists who are overflowing with ideas and passionate about gaming. These are the key things we’re looking for in candidates:

  • Super strong art portfolio of 2D vector  work*
  • Excellent design skills, including effective use of colour, form and composition
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Skill-set required for the role:
• A full understanding of art principles such as colour theory, lighting, perspective and anatomy.
• Expert level with suitable art package (Photoshop, Painter).*
• Strong environmental and character artistic skills.
• Relevant university or further education qualification.
• 3D package experience (Maya, 3ds Max, SketchUp).*
• 1+ game cycle experience.
• Excellent organizational and communication skills.
• Ability to problem solve.
• Flexibility to adapt to specific styles.
• Eye for quality control.
• Graphic design or motion graphics experience a major plus.

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Skill-set required for the role:
– Excellent traditional art skills. Quick sketching and storyboarding experience.*
– Strong concept painting skills in a range of styles.*
– Experienced with 2D and 3D art packages.*
– Some experience of user interface design and implementation.
– Experience of creating in-game art work 2D/3D. Versatile in both realistic and stylised artwork.
– Enjoys working in a team environment and willing to pitch in and help out others when necessary.
– Able to work to deadlines and schedule own workload.
– Has worked on at least one shipped title. (console or mobile)
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The tools I will research –
Sketckbook pro

“Autodesk® SketchBook® Pro paint and drawing software enables you to transform your desktop computer, laptop, or tablet PC into the ultimate sketchbook. With professional-quality sketching capabilities and an intuitive interface, even new users can be productive within minutes.”

SketchBook Pro software offers the sketching software capabilities and quality results expected by professionals:

  • Illustration
  • Entertainment
  • Graphic arts
  • Industrial design
  • Automotive
  • Manufacturing
  • Architecture
Used by concept artist Calum Alexander Watt.

By artist Calum Alexander Watt

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The tools I will research –
SketchUp
“In its time at Google, SketchUp has become one of the most popular 3D modeling tools in the world. With over 30 million SketchUp activations in just the last year, we’re awfully proud of our accomplishments. But there’s still so much we want to do, and we think we’ve found a way forward that will benefit everyone—our product, our team and especially our millions of users.”
Used by concept artist Kemp Remillard.

By Kemp Remillard

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Bibliography 

Books:

Mead, S.M, 1996. Oblagon. 1st ed. U.S.A: Columbia lithograph, Inc.

Vaz, M.C.V, 1996. The Art of Star Wars. 1st ed. U.K: Mohn Media.

Khang Le, Mike Yamada, Felix Yoon, Scott Robertson (2005). The Skillful Huntsman. California: Design Studio Press. p1-160.

Simpson, J. (1989) The Oxford Dictionary. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hudson, C. and Watts, D. (2012) The Art of The Mass Effect Universe. U.S.: Dark Horse.

No Author (2008) Bladerunner Sketchbook. PDF edition [e-book] San Diego: Bill D.Schanes. p57.

 

 

Magazine:

Artist Insight: Making Great Compositions

Unknown. (2012) Artist Insight: Making Great Compositions . Imagine FX, Iss. 80 p.p78-82.

 

Websites:

Feng Tzu. 1999. ArtbyFeng. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.artbyfeng.com/. [Accessed 20 November 11].

 

The Gnomon Workshop. 2000. The Gnomon Workshop. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/about.html. [Accessed 20 November 11].

Skillset. 2011. Concept Artist. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.skillset.org/film/jobs/productiondesign/article_4680_1.asp. [Accessed 19 November 11].

http://www.sketchsoftware.net. 2011. Syd Mead Speaks About Sketch Software. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.sketchsoftware.net/syd-mead-speaks-about-sketch-software. [Accessed 08 January 12].

Will Terrell. 2009. How do I become a freelance illustrator?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://talentmonkey.net/?p=110. [Accessed 15 January 12].

http://www.a-n.co.uk. 2005. Artist’s Fees and Payments. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.a-n.co.uk/an_docs/a-n_fees_12pp.pdf. [Accessed 17 January 12].

Ars Technica. 2009. Gaming expected to be a $68 billion business by 2012. [ONLINE] Available at: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2008/06/gaming-expected-to-be-a-68-billion-business-by-2012.ars. [Accessed 24 January 12]. 5

AlisonEldred (n.d.) John Harris. [online] Available at: http://www.alisoneldred.com/artistJohnHarris.html [Accessed: 08/03/12]

usa.autodesk.com. 2012. Autodesk SketchBook Pro. [ONLINE] Available at:http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/pc/index?id=6848332&siteID=123112. [Accessed 18 May 12].

 

 

 

 

Videos:

Gnomon: Thumbnail Sketching and Line Drawing, 2008. [DVD] Syd Mead, U.S.A: The Gnomon Workshop.

. (2010). 2019: A Future Imagined. [Online Video]. 03 December. Available from: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1662813/syd-mead-blade-runner-concept-designer-envisions-the-future-video. [Accessed: 21 November 2011].

FZDSCHOOL. (2012). Multitasking . [Online Video]. 09 January. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iPzEKlT7EKI. [Accessed: 16 January 2012].

 

MegentaFilms (2011) The Secret History Of The Earth. Available at: http://vimeo.com/27249779 [Accessed: 08/03/12].

 

Films:

Blade Runner, 1982. [DVD] Ridley Scott, U.S.A: Virgin Interactive.

2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968. [DVD] Stanley Kubrick, U.S.A: Roc.

Interviews:

Millard, Sean. (2012) [Interviewed by Author, 20 Jan 2012].

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