Friday, 7 March 2014

Designing our First Production Piece for 'Northern Iron'

When it came to the first Mech designs, I again had the presentation in mind. I almost began imagining that this first group presentation was like a pitch to a company, trying to sell our new IP by presenting them with production pieces that give an idea of what the game could look like. It was requested that I design a Northern Resistance Mech based on the  Renault F-17 tank. Again, instead of treating this as a vehicle design brief with thumbnails and turnarounds, the idea here was to create a one off scene to give a sense of style and mood. I collected some reference:

Although I didn't feel the need to produce a range of thumbnails, I did do four quick sketches:

They were mostly based on the Renault, taking on different poses from different angles to help vary the composition. I did throw in an abstract experimental design at the end, although decided it didn't fit at all stylistically. I circled the design I was most happy with, and sent the designs to group for confirmation.

After I was given the go-ahead on the top right design, I began to set up my composition using a technique I learned from concept artist 'Feng Zhu' from his Youtube channel. I dropped in the sketch, setting it to a multiply layer meaning it acted as lineart. I then dropped in photographs to help me find the values. Once I was happy, I painted in the values from photos using the colour picker. This is a time saving technique:

With the Mech itself, I let some the phototexture below bleed through the paint. This adds texture and subtle details helping accelerate the believability of the piece. Note also how the canvas flipped horizontally between the two early phases. This is something digital artists constantly do, as our eyes get used to seeing things in a certain way. When we flip the canvas it reveals mistakes. One of the main problems my group had with the shape of the Mech, was the legs. They agreeably looked too slim and Sci-fi-esque:

I tried to bulk up the legs by adding more panels, making it appear intentionally clunky. One criticism from Adam was that it looked like it could 'leap everywhere,' whereas we wanted something heavier and grounded. It was also suggested however, that the pose was partly responsible for this unintended agile appearance, the tank crouched very low as if ready to spring into action. I however felt that the action pose made the composition more interesting, so opted to leave it. The panels on the legs also helped disguise some of the more complex mechanisms, creating the illusion of a functioning Mech in this early production piece that was required only to be visually appealing. The more intricate design features will come later. 'Scott Robertson' spoke of this illusion approach in the tutorial video I shared in a previous post. Some final feedback from Tim:

The linked image.

The shortened nose required a paintover, involving retouching up the background, and refiguring out the perspective of the mech. I also painted more detail into the backdrop, and added a Marauder figure for scale. This led to a brief discussion on the height of the Mechs:

Overall, this was a really good exercise in communication. The piece was well considered, done in various passes determined by feedback from the the group. I am learning to be prepared to change my work constantly and not become too attached to it at any stage. Receiving feedback from my teammates is really helping me think more critically when I work, as I am asked to amend any careless mistakes.

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