Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Building Textures

As mentioned earlier, the game level now takes place in a SOI city (Leeds) which has been overrun by Marauders. I wanted to nail down a general style for SOI architecture, so began by painting two generic buildings sent to me modelled and unwrapped by Adam:

We had already discussed that the Leeds Market building would be a good source of reference. It has an interesting old victorian feel, consisting of lots of iron arches and supports giving both an elegant yet industrial feel. We thought this style would suite the resourceful Sons of Iron quite well. I grabbed some images from google:

As you can see I have also included a brewery cask and a dramatic painting to bring in interesting and vibrant colours. I feel I went into quite some detail with these structures:

I included elements from the Leeds market hall, such as the blue supports and burgundy strip with gold decorations. This contrasting with the grimy weathered stone and dirty copper brewery casks bursting through, gives both elegant SOI and chaotic Marauder characteristics:

I also created a dirty water stain effect around the brewery casks using a soft muddy brown brush, and then applying the smudge tool:

With this subject matter, there is a constant struggle between vibrancy and grittiness. The marauders are an unsanitary beer guzzling faction, laying waste to once beautiful architecture. Despite the grizzly setting of a war torn land and the bleak industrial North, we actually want the aesthetics of the game world to be bright and fun to look at, very much like the 'Borderlands' game franchise. I actually feel that the strong blue iron girders and complimentary orange copper casks help maintain the balance and keep the style fun and vibrant. The details such as vomit coloured moss, dirty cracked stone and water stains gives us just enough to communicate bleak chaotic times without loosing the fun.

I believe also that the heavy black outlines help give an instant comic book effect, also making the forms seem more punchy and exaggerated:

I also decided to build some modular image planes which I dubbed 'Vandalism' parts, to further the level of Marauder impact on the regal SOI architecture. I mixed the colours of both clans, the 'Crimson Teeth' (red) and 'Nasti Moons' (yellow). I also included a fence spike piece to have abruptly jutting out the walls:

On another note, there was come confusion regarding the roof of the tall building. The original model didn't contain a roof and was hollow at the top, presenting issues obviously with backface culling. For this reason I quickly added a spire roof, but it turned out that the tops of the taller buildings would not be visible. Based on the camera distance from the the player character on the test levels, I assumed the buildings would be in full view, but it turns out the scale will be upped and the camera moved closer, which in my opinion is better. The added roof did come in handy however for a rendered out shot I did of the textured and vandalised buildings I produced to be used as a promotional image:

Backface culling was an issue when I turned on the backface culling shader in maya. For single planes like on the street lamps (which you will see in a moment) I duplicated the faces, reversed the normals and them combined them both.

With the the Sons of Iron being a religious faction, it was suggested that stain glass street lamp decorations could offer a splash of colour and interest:


With the street lamp decorations, I went for an industrial/ agricultural feel, as if the SOI faction are celebrating their technological advancements. I could have had the stain glass plates cracked and damage by the marauders, but I didn't want to loose the vibrancy and vividness of the designs.

After completion of these standard SOI buildings, I could efficiently apply the same style to others copying over the layers and using the clone stamp tool:

For this pub building I tried a slightly more traditional victorian style with the blue decorative trims, more like the 'Victorian Street' environment concept  piece I produced during the R&D phase.

Notice here that I brought back some subtle art deco elements with the door and decorative small blocky structure directly above the door. It's fun how I am able to combine all these different architectural elements to try and create a unique aesthetic style for the SOI. I think the key with the SOI, being a conservative yet technologically advanced faction, is to try and achieve a new meets old look. The art deco seems suave and classy, against the old industrial iron girders.

That is not to say that we followed this set style for every piece. Adam sent me a building that he had dubbed 'Nighthawks' bar, along with the painting that inspired it:

I liked the mood of the pice, and thought the oranges might match some of the brewery elements, along with the greeny blue theme we already have, so I used these colours:

I painted the font by hand, using reference:

The petrol station below is titled 'Conch' as a humorous play on oil company 'Shell':

Notice how I used phototexture with the brick, taken from Tim's reference photographs taken at the Canal in Leeds. I introduced more phototextures later on, for reasons of both efficiency and also a more dynamic less flat style.

On another note, when rigging the Mechs, it was important that I maintained good practice (naming the conrols and joints conventionally, Locking off controls with the limit attributes function to prevent the rig from breaking...) so that I could pass the rigs on to Rhys for animation. With me being the sole texture artist, my approach was much looser. I used lots of unnamed layers, organised only in rough folders:

This was I okay for me, but I remember hearing artist Titus Lunter speaking about how he once did a job where an experienced artist who was new to digital art passed on a file convoluted with many tiny layers, and Titus spent half the time organise the work before he could paint over anything or make tweaks. This is definitely something to consider if ever I am producing images that could potentially be passed on to other artists.

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