Tag Archives: game art design

It’s all good.

I haven’t been particularly busy since my last post. In fact I’ve been very, very lazy. I suppose it’s good to be lazy sometimes but it doesn’t stop the guilt plaguing me! I’ve been trying to do at least a little bit of sketching or whatever each day, to varying degrees of success. I’m trying to force myself to post every little piece of crap or gold I produce, so feast your eyes on this mixed bag.


Beverley Bandstand (Abandoned)

I really enjoyed where the linework was going with the above piece. I worked on an A5 piece of thick watercolour paper, and the unyielding nature of the paper meant I got the finest line possible with my pen. However, I got the scale wrong on the page, meaning the decorative roof is falling off the top and I ended up squashing the overall image to try and fit it on the paper. Also, I forgot how to perspective.

This piece came about because I was trying to create some art for an art shop in Beverley which had asked to potentially stock my work (woo hoo!). But when this went wrong I decided to leave it for a bit and try again another time (a time which is yet to come up). I’m even tempted to work at home from photos to save myself the time and stress of always getting things wrong on location.

I’ve lost my confidence a little as a result of too many consecutive failures and I’m not sure whether I’ll get in contact with the shop any time soon because I don’t think I’m consistent enough yet to sell. I think my work is pretty good. But only when it is good! And that’s not often. Consistence is key.

On the bright side, I ended up going for coffee with a complete stranger who approached me as I was working (you can do that in non-murdery places like Beverley), and it was lovely and refreshing to meet a new interesting person with uncannily similar interests to my mother and I. I’m not much of a believer in fate, but this was as close as any experience I’ve had.

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Caffe Nero on location

The following day I retired to the relative safety of a cafe after my blunder in town. I’m finding over time I’m getting more and more nervous of people approaching me to see my work. It’s mainly for 2 reasons; 1) my work is always going wrong and it’s embarassing, and 2) when people ask what I do, I can’t hide behind the title of student anymore! I hate it! When I say I’m an artist, people expect you’re a professional. And then we’re both disappointed with what we see on the page in my hands.

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Sad doodles.

Over the course of the week I’ve been getting more and more unsettled and angry about my art ability. So I went and sat on my own in the garden to be angry and angrily draw a wheelbarrow and plants. You can tell I was angry because I didn’t try very hard and they suck. Angry angry.



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Mum’s 8-year-old lurcher Charlie has the most hilarious and adorable proportions and is really fun to draw. It’s both a blessing and a curse that he shuffles around as much as he does. Sometimes when I catch him still for a few minutes though, I can get a decently rendered sketch. Feel free to laugh at the more failed sketches.



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Flowers in the garden (failure/rain not permitting edition).

It is one of my greatest goals in life to become an accomplished oil painter outside of becoming a respectable artist in the game industry. I have boundless levels of respect and awe for painters. As such, I’ve been reading Alla Prima by Richard Schmid. It’s absolutely brilliant (and I may be slightly regretting loaning it to an artist friend for two weeks haha). It also makes me feel suitably useless at life, especially when I don’t understand what I’m reading (often).

At the very least it’s inspired me to start painting again, but every stroke I paint often leaves me more frustrated than the last. I just can’t articulate the amazing things I want to paint onto paper. That won’t stop me though. I’m hoping when I move down south to my new job to get involved as much as possible in whatever art community is down there, and perhaps look into seeking someone to mentor me in painting when I’m not working. In my dreams, I fantasise about studying at SARA. *sigh* But that will never happen, I can’t afford it. 😦 So I’ll have to find the next best thing. I’ve already started stockpiling plein-air equipment and more oil painting things ready for my weekends to practise.

If anyone has oil painting advice and critique as I share more oil stuff in the future, whoever you may be, then please impart your wisdom!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s edition of Anya’s Moaning. In happier news;

I will be graduating with a first class degree! It appears from my grade sheet online that I got a 95% mark on my Final Major Project, which is insane. I’m still waiting to see if this is an incorrect assumption, but I’ve been reassured it’s not and I see no evidence stating otherwise (it only says ’95’ on my sheet, but not what the 95 is out of).

I also found out today that on top of my first I will be receiving the DMU Media Production Best Final Year Student award! This made me so happy, and made me feel like my hard work and tears and just crazy hard work ethic had been recognised. It really made my day.

I’m feeling guilty for writing this blog at my computer now, so I should probably go draw to make myself feel better. Maybe I have a problem?

Art is hard, and it makes me want to cry and stomp and throttle people like a large toddler.

But it’s all good.


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Christmas Woes.

Handed all my work in a week ago, and since have proceeded to blissfully do bugger all, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, inhaling much food, and playing The Witcher 3.

This is all I’ve done all week unfortunately.

On Monday, I headed in to uni to present  my Final Major Project idea to the a couple of tutors and see if I would get the formal yes/no to go ahead. I got a yes! After some consideration we agreed that I could create 3 dioramas, rather than the initial 4-5 I had wanted to do. I decided that spending 3 weeks on each of 5 dioramas would stress me out, and probably leave me frustrated because I wouldn’t be able to reach my full potential with each. 4 dioramas was the next conclusion, but I later asked to have it whittled down to just 3 so that I could spend time making them a) gorgeous, b) super atmospheric, and c) lively with moving water, grass, sound effects etc.

Quality over quantity. I want something that hits hard in my portfolio and is super pretty!

If anyone has read Robin Hobb’s Fitz/Fool books, you probably know there are a whole load of weird and wonderful locations I could potentially turn into dioramas. I’ve chosen 3 that I think I am happy with;

  • Fool’s tent.

In the dimming light, the Fool’s colorful [tent] was like a blossom cast on the snow. Illuminated from within, the bright panels gleamed like stained-glass windows. What had seemed random designs suddenly resolved into dragons and serpents cavorting. … The glow had come from a tiny brazier, set in a small pit dug in the floor of the chamber. The silk walls caught the heat it generated and held it well, while the light seemed multiplied by the sheen of the fabric. Even so, it was not bright inside the tent: rather it was lit warmly and intimately. A thin rug covered the rest of the floor, and a simple sleeping pallet of wool blankets was in one corner.

  • Fool’s Buckkeep tower room.

Here was light, and flowers, and colors in profusion. There was a loom in the corner, and baskets of fine, thin thread in bright, bright colors. The woven coverlet on the bed and the drapings on the open windows were unlike anything I had ever seen, woven in geometric patterns that somehow suggested fields of flowers beneath a blue sky. A wide pottery bowl held floating flowers and a slim silver fingerling swam about the stems and above the bright pebbles that floored it. I tried to imagine the colorless, cynical Fool in the midst of all this color and art.

  • Stone dragon garden.

I glimpsed the green-beaded, trailing branches of willows coming into leaf and the rose-tinged trunks of paper birches presiding over a deeply grassed meadow. Beyond I saw the brown standing husks of last year’s cattails deeper in the vale. The lush rankness of the grasses and ferns foretold swampland as surely as the green smell of standing water did. … Before long we came to where an energetic stream had long ago washed out a bridge and devoured the road to either side of it. Now it trickled shining and silver in a gravelly bed, but the fallen trees on either bank attested to its flood time fury. A chorus of frogs stilled suddenly at our approach. … Blackbirds called and early insects hummed. … words seemed to hang in the still sweet air. Then I saw the dragon. … We stared at it, as unmoving as it was. Golden and green, he sprawled under the trees in their dappled shade.

I’ve chosen these places because I think they sound beautiful and all have very different atmospheres in my mind which will make each one stand apart from the others.

I can imagine them being incredibly surreal, and want to be able to pull off an enchanting mysticism through colours, sound, texture, composition, and perhaps most importantly lighting. I think this will be a real challenge to achieve in a tiny, enclosed diorama where you can’t have incredible vistas outside the windows and such. But I think the sense of intimacy I want to portray will hopefully overcome this.

I’m really excited to get going. My first task will be to work out a style through creating a set of very small style tests to work out how I want to model and texture my scenes. I’d really like to do this over Christmas, but with no computer back in Beverley that’ll be impossible. So… I’m hauling my oil paints and such home with me, to get some traditional art therapy instead. It’ll do me good, even if I’m guilting hard right now.

In the mean time I guess I’ll just… think about styles.

I’m a little stressed. I should just accept that I can’t work and chill out. *sigh*

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Hur durrr I’ve been so busy this weeeeeek. So here’s a quick update about how my project went and what’s next! If you’re interested in all the technical mish mashery, go here. Go!

First, you may have noticed I changed my blog again. It’s mostly so I can keep my third year official submission blog things separate from my ramblings, and the tutors can find them easily/you casual readers can avoid it. YOU’RE WELCOME.


I FINISHED MY SHOOOOOP! (Sketchfab-ulousnes)

13 cropped-41.jpg cropped-6.jpg

Pretty happy with how it turned out. I’m not going to go into obscene amounts of retrospective evaluation rubbish because that would be the third evaluation I’ve written about this (hand-in blog and then a Word document too). Instead, have an overpaint I did to show some of the things I’d alter if I had some time;


Learned a lot for this project, in particular points about creating interesting forms and colour proportions. Thanks to regular feedback twice a week on this project I managed to target areas of weakness on my model or design before it was too late, and any mistakes that managed to escape that net have been noted so it doesn’t happen again (there were quite a few I want to target). A big thing I learned during this project is just how flexible you can be with making changes to a model throughout the pipeline. A big part of me has always felt tied down to my final concept as soon as I closed the Photoshop file, but for this project I have been encouraged to constantly overpaint my model, even in the depths of texturing, and make improvements here… change a colour there etc. I was still feeling a bit uncomfortable doing it for this project, as I felt a little guilty. But for future projects I am very ready and open to making constant edits and overpaints, and keeping a record of them to show the development of my work for hand-in.

For my next project I am going to be doing the Partially Stylised Epic City Project. This is a pure concept art project, and my main reasons for choosing this are to establish whether I would enjoy doing just concept art for a large amount of time (in case I choose to for my FMP), and also to work out a realistic, productive concept art workflow for future reference. This is an extreeeeemely intense project, because I have to produce;

  • Quick concept ideas for multiple potential cities.
  • Choose 4 cities that are geographically distinct, all in the same era, with more developed design ideas.
  • A number of sketchy shots for each city, eg. birds eye view, gate view, street view, tower view, etc. to quickly convey design/mood.
  • Tidier street scene sketches with hero buildings/props/life in the city.
  • A few typical inhabitants of each city.

So… no definite ideas for cities or anything like that yet, but I’ll be starting a Pinterest board very soon to start quickly throwing together some visual inspiration before I start really actively concepting ideas. Assuming I create 3-4 sketchy views of the cities, 4 tidier street scenes/hero building sketches, and perhaps some drawings of inhabitants on top of that, not to mention the original iterations and concepts to decide on my 4 final cities…. I could be extremely under pressure for the next 3 weeks! Not that this little guy cares;

‘Quit yo’ whining and hold me, lady.’

I’m not much of a concept artist/illustrator so my final outcomes for this project could be totally hilarious. Ah well, I’m sure it’ll all work out just fine in the end. Lol I haven’t painted for weeks hahahah I’m doomed. I stress a lot about my work, but deep down a part of me knows that I’m mostly competent enough to pull through with a good outcome in the end (with a few exceptions, this project potentially being one). I’m so screwed. I’m going away next weekend for a day or two so hopefully that little break will stop me getting too wound up. Send help. Besides, I should reclaim my weekends.

I guess I’ll post next weekend with how it’s going. Thanks for reading!

Please help me.

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Name: Anya Elvidge

P Number: P1321360X

Email: P1321360X@myemail.dmu.ac.uk

Project Title: Stylised Shopfront

Overview: To concept and model a stylised shopfront for a non-realistic game world, using normal maps where necessary and giving it suitable surface properties. Display the model in UE4. 15,000 tris and 4 x 1024 maps.

Sketchfab (WordPress will not embed *sob*):



I created a Pinterest board of existing inspiring art, material types, potential worlds for the shop to be in, and real-world inspiring architecture and ideas. I referred to this throughout the concepting, modelling and texturing phases.

Pinterest Favourites


I started out on paper.

1- Sketching

2- Sketching

Then took scans of the sketches into Photoshop to manipulate and develop.

3- Developing

I did this a couple of times, working from left to right across the page.

4- Further Developing

5- Final Development B&W

I came up with a very very rough idea so I could create some colour roughs. Many were inspired by images on my moodboard.

6- Colour Roughs

7- Quick Colour Development

I created a 3D render and overpainted it, and this became my first concept draft.

8- Concept

These are the early stages of development for my concept. At first I wasn’t sure of my shop type, and then the chimney caused me to gravitate towards creating a blacksmith’s. That is where the roof colour turns green, because blue felt to clinical to be a blacksmith. Green is much more earthy.

8- Progress Image

After my first concept draft was complete at the end of the first week, Mike Kelly gave me some feedback. At the start of the second week, after the weekend, Mike Powell and Stas also gave their opinions. This is how my concept developed as a result;

9- Feedback and Progress 09-10-15

10- Concept

Wireframe (final submission as UE4 file):



I have not included some unwraps because they were just planes or very simple.




(Anvil, Canopy Supports, Assets, Canopy + alpha, Dirt Decal + alpha, Forge + alpha, Curtain, Floor Tile, Grass, Lantern + alpha, Roof Tiles, Roof Tilable, Stone Tilable, Smith’s Tools, Shop, Weapons and Weapon Rack, Tree/Flower etc. + alpha.)



(Floor Tile, Weapons and Weapon Rack, Roof Tilable.)



(Forge, Assets, Weapons and Weapon Rack.)



(Roof Tiles, Floor Tile, Roof Tilable, Canopy.)


Beauty Shots:



Unlit render to show my model works without lighting too;

Render (1)


Render (5)


To conclude this project, overall I am pleased with my final result. I feel that I have really learned a lot about the pipeline of creating assets from concept to final model, particularly with regards to how to iterate effectively by means of painting over work. Though I found fully hand painting textures really difficult to start with, I’ve started to develop a workflow that makes painting textures much quicker than I would have been two weeks ago. I also feel that I’ll be quicker at creating interesting concepts in larger volumes, because I’ve learned some important points about how to make things more interesting to the viewer through feedback sessions with tutors.

I think the strongest aspect of this particular project is how I created such a populated scene within such a short space of time. Initially I had planned on creating just the shopfront, but it would add much more visual interest to have some of the surroundings too. I was pleased with how the little diorama turned out in the end, and felt that the colours were consistent and looked relatively pleasing. My favourite area on the model is the roof of the shop. I like the colours and the surface properties of the tiles, and was happy with how I managed to construct the roof to save tris by using planes and a normal map to fake most of the tiles, with higher poly tiles at the edges and around the silhouette.

A couple of things I didn’t do so well were time management and texturing to a consistent style. I’m also really disappointed with the lighting and atmosphere in the scene. I think my time management was less effective than usual because this was my first timed project since university last year, and I also set myself too much to do. Next project I’ll have learned from my mistakes and manage my time better I’m sure; quality over quantity will be something to consider more carefully. Texturing-wise, I wasn’t overly disappointed by my work. But I feel that it took me a while to get into the swing of hand-painting so that assets I did later in the project felt much better. A ‘style’ to my texturing didn’t really emerge; I just painted things how it felt right and how I felt would be fastest. I think if I were to re-do this project I would vastly reduce the amount of work I set myself, and actually take the time to sculpt the model in Zbrush first to get more believable edgewear and surfaces while still retaining a stylised look. I’d make sure I decided on a solid style from the start, and keep it consistent throughout the project.

For next time I will be careful to set aside specific time to act on feedback and polish my work, particularly in the atmosphere/lighting department. This comes back down to my time management, as I didn’t have enough time to gave myself a day at the end of the project to revisit feedback and check I had acted on it. For example, Mike Kelly suggested I change the colour of the sign above the door to make it stand out, and I strongly agreed with this. However, as I rushed to get everything else done I ran out of time to sit down and really consider this advice, create some paintovers, and act on it to the best of my ability. This also came down to my lack of documentation of feedback. Next time I will make sure I keep a specific place to document feedback notes (not just my blog/a scrappy notebook), and I’ll make sure I add lots of paintovers as I go.

Finally, I will check earlier in the production of my work whether everything I want to do is possible. My intention had been to add some blackening to the tiles at the top of the chimney and elsewhere around the model where soot had accumulated. Unfortunately, however, the method I was going to use- decals- is a little imperfect in UE4 at the moment, and the decals appear very washed out and transparent when projected onto the model. I wanted them to be really opaque and have their own roughness that would override that of the underlying texture while retaining it’s normals. It meant that, though I still left the decals in the final scene, their effect was almost invisible and it looks like I have forgotten to act on that aspect of my concept. For the time being I will have to look into alternatives to decals.

Feedback and Overpaint;

Based on feedback during, and at the end of the project, I decided to create a quick overpaint to show some of the changes I would like to have made.


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Project 1, week 2.

I seriously can’t believe it’s Friday already! My shop project is going relatively well, although I’m definitely feeling the pressure with this project like I haven’t really before. The weekend that I had away has taken its toll on my progress, and every hour is currently counting to where my project will end up by the end of the 3 weeks. It’s going to be 9am-7pm days until Friday I think.


I forgot to mention my time planning properly last week, so here is my plan, and how well I’ve been sticking to it;

-Week 1 Mon-Thursday; quick concepts, colour roughs etc., decide on final idea.

General concepting went fine but I abandoned the small amount of work I did on the first day, slowing me down. My final concept idea was not complete until Friday morning, and the concept was still undergoing changes throughout production of the model, particularly on Monday, which set me behind schedule.

-Away Friday-Sunday.

Took a laptop away with me, and made a small amount of time to begin modelling solid aspects of my concept ahead of schedule.

-Week 2-3; Model/Texture/Engine.

On the Monday of week 2 I made some large changes to my design at the suggestion of Mike P and Stas. Was set back a few hours but managed to start modelling again by the afternoon. Continued to model throughout the week, unwrapping and adding to engine as I went. Also started texturing. By Friday I was behind schedule with modelling/texturing for reasons explained below, and so I created a much more rigid time schedule asset by asset. This showed to me that I was about two days behind my ideal plan because I wouldn’t have time to create some of my assets;


-Final 2 days; Polish/Documentation.

As it stands I feel that I will have to use this time to add to my model, on top of documentation. I may lose out on polish time.
So this week I have gone from nothing to this;


The only bits that are finished are the canopy, weapon rack and weapons (which I literally did today), and the tiled ground. So I still have a whole load to do, hence the 9-7 days. Maybe I’ll have to work more. The reason the building itself is not textured yet is because I’m finding it really hard to hand paint a building. Weapons and small assets I can do, but I’m finding it really hard to get my head around painting such a large asset and making it look how I concepted it. I agonised over it for a day and got pretty much nothing done, so I’m going to come back to it next week when I’m in the flow of texture painting.

That’s the main reason I’m behind schedule really. It’s also partially down to the fact that I have set myself a lot to do; the project brief was just to model a shopfront. Not the interior or loads of assets to make up the setting. I’ve gone a bit overboard by making an open shop so you can see the interior, and making a side part of the shop under a canopy so I have more space to cover. But I’m willing to push for it.

There are parts of my concept that I am also willing to drop should I be running out of time, such as the potted tree. I’ve ranked them on a priority scale in case things get too tight, and already accepted that there are certain things I’ll be dropping regardless such as the grind stone.

Now I’m going to talk about the feedback I’ve received over the week. On both Monday and Friday I get feedback from tutors briefly. It’s great and my design, as you may have noticed, has changed since I posted last week as a result.

9- Feedback and Progress 09-10-15

When I came into uni on Monday I was feeling a little unhappy with my design. I’d stared at it for too long and wasn’t feeling it. I’d purposely started modelling parts that wouldn’t necessarily change much if I altered the design a little. So I wasn’t particularly surprised or saddened when Mike and Stas suggested some changes. They liked the Japanese references in my Pinterest board.

temple roof - Google Search:

I love the way that only one material/colour has been used on the roof, but it still has a really varied and beautiful appearance.

I was a little reluctant to go full stereotypical Japanese building style, but agreed that I needed more interesting shapes and silhouettes in my design that would flow nicely together and create more shadows and surface interest. So I made some changes;


The week went on and I carried on with modelling. As I moved on to texturing I started to realise that my simple approach to the stone surfaces in the concept wasn’t going to work in 3D. So I’ve started to alter the concept on the fly with paint overs or painting roughly into my texture to test ideas.


Trying texture ideas without committing.

I felt a little guilty changing my concept so much when I was well into 3D, but I had my feedback with Mike K today and he actually encouraged this. Painting over 3D is how it goes in the industry, with art directors taking a look at models or parts of a world, and over painting it to make suggestions for the artists to change. So I’ll be continuing to do this for future projects. I mentioned about this last week as well, and it’s good to get yet more assurance that it’s ok to be flexible throughout the pipeline.

Further advice Mike gave me was to make some changes to colours to improve continuity throughout the piece, and also to draw more attention to the sign thingy above the door. Here’s a paint over to illustrate what he was saying;


Think I might lose some of the blue in the stone too. It feels like a little too much.

So that’s that, and this next week is going to be hard hard work! I’ll be working on painting my textures, modelling assets, and acting on feedback. Hope I actually get a decent amount done and I’m pleased with the project at the end of next week.

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Away From Home

It’s the weekend! And I’m in Wales! I see no sheep yet! Will post updates!

My mum is doing a course here in Newport (not Cardiff like I thought), and so I’m just hanging out in the hotel breakfast room and doing some worky stuff so I don’t feel bad. It smells distinctly of burning toast here.

I thought before I settle into some 3dsMax modelling work, I’d just sum up my week and talk about what I’ll be doing next.

At the start of the week I chose 3 briefs from the provided list that I could see myself working on. I’m keeping this list open to change depending on how I feel as the projects progress, but for now my favourites are;

-Stylised shop (2D/3D stylised); Concept and model an interesting shop front.

– Isometric environment (2D stylised); Concept at least 6 stylised isometric environment tiles that are all part of the same universe and sit nicely together. Can optionally visualise in 3D.

-Epic city (2D semi stylised); Concept 4 epically scaled cities, including 3 different views of each city, rougher sketches, residents, and hero buildings.

This list is looking pretty 2D heavy. As I’m still not sure whether I want to choose a 2D or 3D route for my career I’ve chosen a 2D/3D combination project to get started; the stylised shop. I think I’ll then make up my mind whether I’ll choose a more 2D or 3D heavy project afterwards depending on what I enjoyed most. Currently my thoughts are that a 3D project where you have to model off an existing concept is pretty soul destroying to me, and doing an exclusively 2D project may make me cry from pure stress and frustration. But hey! It’s all fun and games. I like doing both elements, but I’m happy to try specialising for the short 3 week project blocks and see how I handle doing just one or the other.

1- Sketching 2- Sketching

Don’t worry, I haven’t cheated and just carried over my concept from my stylised shop project that I started the other week. I’ve started fresh, and now I’ll show you how I went about concepting from the very beginning. Because a large portion of the marking criteria (20%) is about idea generation and communication, I’ve spent longer than I would normally on the concepting side of things. I’ve begun to feel a bit worried about whether 10 days is enough time in my schedule to model everything, but I think that extra day I’ve given myself to concept is essential because I can really solidify my idea and avoid confusion later in the pipeline when it comes to material properties and fine details. Last year I would completely blaze through the concepting process, make maybe 15 variations, not think much about the final product, and get on with the modelling only to stall when I realised I didn’t really know what I was making.

Up above you can see my starting scribbles. I got next to nothing done on the first day because I was feeling very blocked and under pressure to create a masterpiece. After a some (literal) crying at Photoshop for running slow, and wondering what on earth I was going to make, I ended up being forced to calm down and take a step back. I cried to the IT technician (sorry Craig!) and whined to the course leader (sorry Mike!) and eventually sat down and went from the very beginning. I scrapped all my botched attempts at shitting a diamond and went to basics; paper! I set myself a loose starting point, which I have now moved far far away from but it really helped me to imagine that I was creating a worship supplies shop near to a temple in a forest at first.

3- Developing

I chose 4 ideas that I liked, and went from left to right remixing and changing the ideas until some of them were unrecognisable.

4- Further Developing

Then I went again! I wanted to generate as many variations as possible so I could have elements to choose from for my final design.

5- Final Development B&W

I chose 3 ideas I liked, and then narrowed it down to a final one. This is obviously a really rough scribble but it was something I could make colour roughs out of, and think about refining it later once I had decided on what sort of materials and colour the final design would be.

6- Colour Roughs

7- Quick Colour Development

Once again, made a load of variations and then narrowed down to two, then just tried to refine those a little. At this point I was lost and confused and this definitely was NOT an apothecary/herbalist/worship supply/hippy whatever the hell I was thinking shop. I spoke to my air support (Jonah) and he was feeling a blacksmith’s shop.

Yes! How did I not see it before? The chimney-like formation on top was definitely not making sense. But if it was a blacksmith’s..? Of course! I changed my direction immediately.

I made a few changes to the colour palette and such, so that the colours had completely diverged from my original path. I think it’s really interesting how my design has changed with feedback and my changes of mind. Usually I would panic if I started to go off the beaten track with my concepts; I’ve jumped from apothecary to herbalist to worship supply shop to souvenir shop to blacksmith, and my colour palette and everything else has followed. But I think this is the most organic and beneficial way I’ve ever worked, and I feel like my design is improving a lot from this treatment. I’m including elements I would never have considered if I’d stayed rigid to my original shop idea, concept and colours.

By Friday I was feeling both positive and a little nervous about where my design was going. Basically at this point I was sporting a cutesy unfinished ‘blacksmith’ concept that had pretty pink curtains and was definitely nothing like your grimy neighbourhood Skyrim smith. Fortunately, Friday is scheduled tutor meeting time! Hooray! I spoke to Mike Kelly, a tutor on the course who used to work at Codemasters (I think). Anyway, he gave me a paintover and we talked about where I was at;

9- Progress at this point

So after all that I’ve finally reached the main reason I wrote this blog post. I just wanted to write about my feedback, jeez.

Like I said, I was feeling a little nervous about where my concept was going. I felt like it was a little unstable and people were going to look at it and go that’s a blacksmith? I still felt that I was going to stick to my guns on my cutesy design though. I want to make something that’s more original than your standard blacksmith. To start off, how often do you see a blacksmith based in an Asian-esque decorative building? How about one with pink curtains and a marble checkered floor? No? Green roof tiles? I didn’t think so! I hoped Mike would see potential and not push me to change too much.

And he did like it! Obviously he had advice about changes I could make, but he was optimistic about my unconventional approach to the building. My concept was just at the point where it wasn’t quite finished but I was running out of steam, so it was the perfect time to get an injection of inspiration and advice. He suggested that I;

-Make it more obviously a blacksmith.

-Add a focal point.

-Add some junk, make it lived in.

I’d like to say ‘yeah, I’d have totally done that. My concept’s not finished yet’, and I’d have probably added certain things like an anvil and junk to make it more… blacksmithy… but suggestions like ‘add some junk here to lead the eye into the piece and get rid of that harsh angle’ were things I wouldn’t have even thought about. It was really useful. He pointed out the empty space above the door and rightly said it was just too empty and needed something. I’d been noodling with that area and wasn’t sure what to do about it, but when he plonked a sketchy sign in there, it immediately made the place a blacksmith, took away the emptiness, and added a focal point to the building. Three birds with one stone!

8- Concept

Currently unfinished concept. Still needs a sign over the door, and just a bit more rendering and finish in general. I don’t want to go too overkill though; it’s a concept, not an illustration. Things like the rooftiles will probably remain unfinished (you get the idea what it is). I will also annotate the finished thing to really hammer home ideas about materials etc.

It’s Saturday today, so all this was only yesterday morning and then I spent the day travelling. This means I haven’t quite had chance to act on all this feedback and fully update my concept to a finished stage, but it’s a priority. My original plan had been to have a final concept by the end of Thursday, be away for Fri/Sat/Sun, and then model on Monday. This has changed because I didn’t get my concept finished on Thursday or even Friday morning. Luckily I’ve taken a laptop away with me, and I have enough time over the weekend to both finish my concept and start modelling a tiny bit. However it’s something I’ll bear in mind for my next project; pay attention to my schedule, concept faster, don’t let creative block get the better of me. Use paper to scribble ideas if Photoshop isn’t doing it for me!

Do something, just don’t waste time over thinking.

So. That’s what I learned this week.

8- Progress Image

Just showing how much my concept changed. The point at which I decided to make it a blacksmith is where the roof changes from clinical-esque blue to a more earthy green. I also played about with the platform because I didn’t want to create the stereotypical house-on-a-disk scene.

I guess I also learned that it’s ok to keep changing your idea until you’re completely happy, even if it means messing about loads with the final render of your concept. It’s not that my early concepts were completely useless, because I was constantly referring back to them for elements and colour schemes I liked. In the end all the work I did and advice I got was extremely useful and contributed to a better final concept.

Well, I’m done now. You may go about your day.

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This is the end.



I’m writing this post and then packing my computer and having pizza and OH MY GOD I MOVE TO LEICESTER TOMORROW. I’m excited. But also nervous. 3rd year of uni is almost upon me. OH GOD.

I’m going to die.

This is it.

This is the end.

So, before I inconvenience my family with my death, I’ve been working on my mum’s website (which is still incomplete but go look at it, she gets so excited when she gets views), leaflets and business cards. It’s for this therapist thing she’s got going. I’m going to be a graphic designer when I grow up! And a photographer. And an interior designer. Oh, and a game artist. I guess.


Yeah, you know it. You want stuff as funky as this. Hopefully it’ll be easier on the eye when it’s printed/folded properly.

Man, I had so much fun arranging the room and holding my breath for inconceivable amounts of time while the camera shutter fretted about the low lighting. The softness on the photo of the stones? Unintentional. My hands were shaky. Seriously though, it was nice. I definitely bonded with my mum over it. I like doing nice things for her.

Apart from that… I’ve been in France. That was also nice. More camera fun;


Chateau de Chambord. The most beautiful building I’ve ever seen.

And I did a painting at another Chateau.


Pff photo quality.

I went kayaking and in true British style got hilariously sunburnt!


And ate Toblerone.

I doodled a bit, and I’m starting to find that I have more confidence to sketch imaginatively, on the train or what have you.

11885723_10204912165549954_2211581363367777441_o 11950272_10204889843431915_3860469772779382168_o

I briefly gained confidence in my painting skills, and then screwed it all up again with some dismal attempts a few days later.


So I made myself feel better by buying matching stuff for my bedroom. I’m such a girl.


Long story very short; I’ve been busy, and not just doing art for a change. Which will change, again, as I settle back into university. I’m extremely apprehensive about this year. It’s all I can really say until the ball starts rolling and I see what the year has to offer. I’m still clueless on my FMP, and I’m terrified. Doubtless I’ll start posting regularly again, because I’ll be back into a stressy arty routine and I’ll want to assimilate my week every Friday when I should be boozing. So, here I go.

This is the end! 3rd year, here I come.

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Time Flies

Well, damn. It’s been a month since I last posted. How embarrassing.

But it was my birthday yesterday! It was nice. 🙂 Did lots of reading in the sun, cut down a tree with my brother and Jonah (for mum, not because I like abusing trees), ate too much food as usual, and generally chilled all day. I’ve been very spoiled with lovely things, and I’m going out for a meal again tonight for more copious amounts of food and MORE PRESENTS. I love presents!

I can tell I’m getting old because my favourite gifts have been a blanket and a teapot… Talk about old before your time.

Girly blanket love.

I’ve been so lazy over the last month, but I think I’m just taking a break before the madness of FMP in September, which I’ve been stressing over horribly. However, I have a Pinterest board on the go, and a pretty solid and exciting idea thanks to Jonah’s help. I’ve just got to get it by the tutors when the academic year comes round, and practice my art to get good enough to pull it off. If I’m allowed to do it, which I don’t see why not, it’ll suit me perfectly… and hopefully aid me in deciding what discipline I want to get a job in, without it being too dilute a project that could hinder my employment prospects.

I’ve been doing a bit of painting here and there;

But most of my work time has been going into my diorama, which is coming on nicely. I feel confident that this project will be complete before the end of the summer, with hopefully some time to spare to paint and really knuckle down my FMP idea. I really need to get my painting skills in gear, particularly painting over rough 3D renders and getting a good consistent style and quality.

Anyway, my diorama;


Obviously I could spend forever populating this thing with tiny details and assets (like I have been), but the big, main chunks of work that still need doing are coming down to a manageable list. That is; right hand shop sculpt/bake, window wall sculpt/bake, window, cushions sculpt/bake, railing texture, pillar texture, fix corner umbrella crap texture.

Then some bird cages, candles, tapestries, little things like sacks, jars, hanging seed bowls in shops… very quick things like that. I’ve decided I’m not going to take close-ups of inside the right-hand shop. So that’s just a case of fleshing out what you can see from my render angles. I may also take the time to add some birds and colourful ivy, flowers, pipes etc coming out of the base/cracked walls. Most of the broken stone looks pretty rubbish, but I think some greenery will work nicely.

I just need to not get overly carried away. I want some time to just paint and prepare for third year, and unfortunately my summer is pretty packed from here on out. Wish me luck!

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More Diorama, a Year of Drama, and Lots of Dallying!

I’ve been having fun with my personal project this week. I’ve been playing around with the buildings in my diorama, spending a lot of time creating little details that can be baked into bump maps for both tilable and unique textures later on. A fair bit of time has also been going into trying to tesselate my models in such a way that they will be sculptable in Zbrush, when I finally get to that stage.

Today, after a bit of modelling decorative trims and stuff, I also made some grass! I was getting a tiiiny bit bored of hard surface stuff;

grass_alpha grass_normal

The grass was a pretty quick job because I used the high poly models from some grass I made a while back for an old project. Instead of baking out loads of different maps and combining them in Photoshop, however, I hand painted the grass blades and roughed up the baked alphas by hand too. Strange how much my techniques have changed since last year. The grass I made even for Off The Map I really don’t like now.


I still have quite a lot of detailing in 3dsMax to do before I feel comfortable moving into Zbrush for some sculpting, but I’ve done the majority of it already. I think one of the big time sinks at this stage of my project is going to be trying to make the bits I want to sculpt, sculptable, by tessellating them properly. It caused a real headache with the floor tiles, and though I have a better understanding of it now, I think doing it with regular shapes like tiles is probably a walk in the park compared to some of the shapes I’ve still to do. I’m braced for it though… nothing sucks more than thinking something will be simple, and then it taking a million years.

I need to redye my hair, yikes.

Last week I attended the DMU Course Rep awards with Jonah, Hannah McMillan and Rachel Cox from uni, to celebrate Jonah and Hannah winning an award. A much deserved award! It’s called the Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Student Award, for which you have to be nominated by tutors. It’s because they’ve both done so much work to aid the course, tutors, and students alike, and it was really cool to watch the action from the sidelines. It’s been a dramatic year!

I also drank too much wine, embarassed myself, and enjoyed many mini quiches. I recieved a bronze course rep certificate myself, and next year I’d like to run for course rep again and try to do more. All I really did this year was sit in SSCC (staff student consultative committee?) meetings and do nothing, so it’s pretty easy to beat.

Well done Hannah and Jonahhhh.

This week should be pretty productive. Jonah’s gone away and I’ve stolen his flat for a few days. The view out the window is insanely distracting, and the kitchen is literally feet away, what could possibly go wrong?



I’m serious, I’m going to be working hard!

Have a nice week. 🙂

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Environment art is my favourite.

Our level has seemingly jumped from bare and barren to full of life this week. It feels like we’ve come on leaps on bounds! This is because this week I decided to take a break from making so many assets, which I was getting a little tired of, and just spent 3 days populating the level. And playing Outlast on the university PCs, but that’s another story for another day. Here is where we’re at so far…

Capture Capture1 Capture2 Capture3 Capture4 Capture5 Capture6 Capture7 Capture8

My current qualm with the level is that it all feels a little too clean… there are no leaves settled on the ground, despite the fact that we have a falling leaf particle… nothing has any grunge, and everything looks almost doll-house-like. I’m in the process of playing with my cottage textures to make them feel more like they originate from the Cotswolds where the book Alice in Wonderland would have taken inspiration from. I’ve dulled down the saturation of the wood and roof tiles in particular, and changed the colours. I’ve also tried adding lichen to the roof tiles, and would like to try making decals which I can add dirt and moss with. I had an academic review at university this week and it was suggested that I really push my attention to detail, if I wish to get a first. So that’s what I want to do with this project from now on.

On the personal project side of things, I’ve made a start. As expected, I’m only finding time to work on it at weekends, but this is last weekend’s progress. I’ve gone from concepting to whiteboxing so far;


How I started out. I very quickly decided on the building style that I was most interested in.


I seem to work best in 4’s. Here I concepted some variations to choose from.


I wanted a nice composition that was set in a corner area to create a scene that feels like just a small part of a larger city. I avoided the typical ‘house on a disk’ diorama format.


Some further colour explorations after the initial consideration above. I wanted a colourful scene. I could go more wild with colour since the walls of the buildings themselves are very plain.


Coming up with some vague ideas of how I would populate the scene. With bird-related things, of course. I’m going for a Moroccan market kind of feel; lots of rugs and containers for items, hanging things, and general clutter.


So, now I have a whitebox. Whiteboxing is a nice flexible stage where I can make variations on my original design, which I definitely need to do. As much as I like the area I’ve concepted and how it feels, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to down-size it a little. This is something I can do in the whitebox, and then overpaint. Going back and forth between 3D and 2D is an extremely conducive way of working, and your work ultimately comes out better for it because you can change and iterate designs quickly, easily and cleanly.

I want to down-size my diorama because I feel that it’s too big for me to be able to get the level of quality I want in the time frame I want. I could end up with an unfinished or botch-job piece otherwise. When concepting, I hadn’t realised how big it actually would be, but as soon I as I took it into 3D I began to worry a little about how long this project would take me at the level of detail I’d like. So, back to the drawing board. I still want to keep the same feel and create a good composition, but on a smaller scale so I can really focus on creating cool models and textures. I’m feeling optimistic and looking forward to when I can start actually modelling. I’ll be doing more on it this weekend, when I’m not (hopefully) relaxing or working at the Game Art Design open day.

It’s not just for the money, I swear.

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