On request to add desktop sizes of the last images, I’ve made the caromble wallpaper page. Hope this works for everyone.
And the following images are some more asset-shots to test the final 3D look.
As pointed out in the last post, this is not in-game, but close to it. If we get features like the black outline to work, it will help us also with the gameplay. We could change the color to highlight important objects.
While working on the cow screenshot, there was a little accident. I put the wrong texture on all objects. But I think it actually has something to it – it looks more gritty, evil and in despair. Wile the overall technique for the other assets is ok, I will try to incorporate some of the effects from this mistake. Maybe the cow will get a gasmask one day.
Even if one has a clear image in his head – it is really tough to fully realize what it is about, and get it on paper. As I pointed out in the last posting about conceptart, the design was not quite there.
When creating the webpage I decided to make a background image – and that was a good chance to freely explore the style a bit more. Here is the line-art done on a A2 paper.
Helped a lot to get my head around this – it also made me collect a lot of shapes and ideas, that I can pretty directly take into the game later. Basically 50 little concepts in one. Here is the final colored version for the website-background. It tiles in all directions.
I might make a full standalone artwork with the original layout later if I find the time.
After the 3D tests I showed earlier I had a pretty clear path to go. Inked lineart did a neat job: it is clearly visible, gives a unique look and is well workable. The next step was coloring to create some final assets so I know it works for all the remaining pieces. From the concepts I had a good idea of how the coloring should look like – and I wanted to take the loose approach very directly into 3D.
Here are some 3D tests that are further along. Note though, that while these are real-time shots, they are not from the actual game. Certain features, like the black outline are still missing. But I think we’re close – the depth of field (blurring in the distance) is working already albeit not as perfect yet.
Here the texture of an oil barrel. Each object will have also a damaged version – thats what the cracks are for. For who is not into 3D usually: The light blue part is a normal map, which helps the game with the lighting. It adds little details like the rims, without having to change the mesh.
It was a guideline from the team to create these, because the Ardor3D engine is able to handle modern shaders quite nicely and we want to show that off (and it looked nicer anyways). While in the game the lights is not set up well yet, these normal maps will look better than in those test shots.
On a team meeting we decided that we should set a proper goal. One level that we aim to finish as a prototype. Taking gameplay and style into account, I’ve made a sketch of a bigger level. It should show the size-progression well, and also use for example some custom physics shapes – in this case it is a twisted ramp (the road in the picture).
We decided to go for this. Also Pascal found this photo you see below, and suggested to use it for the style. This really nailed it – somehow totally what I imagined too. So from now on I took this as my main reference.
Later just by chance I came across the picture again – it’s the Chicago industrial area, from the flickr-account of the library of congress.
Also somehow in my head the style had a much more desperate and kafkaesk look to it – and this image fits so nice to that. But the first version of the level concept fell short of it. So I redid the design – and made the following two color versions, so the team can decide which way to go.
I love the white look – and one day I wanna make a game with that. But for now we all agreed to go for the colored one.
The idea is that that you would start in the little corner where the farm is. And first clear out food-boxes and helpless chickens. In the next step you break out of the wall, then progress to the next wall. After you destroyed the city below, you can unblock the ramp, and finally attack the skyscrapers on the very top.
…which at the very end leads to some nice special effect. I sketched out how flowers overgrow the whole rotten city. We will have to see if we can actually pull this off in the final version.
I’m not 100% satisfied with the look. It should get more of a Metropolis or Gotham City feel. So I will work on this in later concepts.
When we went for the city design – I had to start thinking about how to transfer this look into 3D. It’s great that the team gave me the OK to go for a pencil experiment. I am used to work on huge game projects with hundreds of people – there is not much flexibility there, and not much trying of new things. The switch to single artist is a very nice experience.
I started with a simple container as first test object. And I did the texture in a pencil style. Hoping to get as much of the drawings in to the final version.
There are some problems with this approach. As you can see in the texture-scan, it’s all a bit noisy. And when adding a color overlay (since the final version would surely be more colorful), the lines are hard to read.
In 3D this all got even worse. In the screenshot above you can also see a version with a normal map added. While this looks nicer to me since it seems much more detailed, it makes the line-effect nearly disappear.
Maybe adding contrast on the lineart would fix this, but it tends to look “dirty” with scanned pencil art. Which also creates another issue: Whenever I would add something in Photoshop, I would have to emulate the noise effect. Keeping in mind that I will have to do all assets on my own for now (the downside of not having a big team), I had to find an easier way.
So I made several dummy-objects with just ink-lines. It is faster, and way easier to fix in Photoshop.
The lines are much stronger, and won’t disappear, even if I add color later. I decided to go for this – and made one more detailed object to try the workflow. Some ambient shading definitely helps to sell the shapes.
I think with this I have a good balance of “easy to work”, while still having a somewhat analog look to it.
I want to write a bit about how I started with the art. I was invited to help out with this project, when it was already a bit on the way. The idea is really cool in my opinion – and already fun to see, even in the early still buggy versions. I was happy to join, and my first task was to come up with some style ideas for the art.
I took some time and made the following sketches. One picture that came fist to mind: A more techy look, nice colors and effects. Maybe a spacey background.
Then again – you know, what first comes to mind is often the boring thing that everyone comes up with. So time for the next one. This is a variation of more symbolic objects. A pencilled cargo set – you could use all these boxes as stacks with the physics. Surely the TNT would be fun.
I liked the pencil style, so I made another one. This time the setting is a city. Instead of the TNT crate a nuclear plant could blow up.
To offer one more very different option, I went for a sci-fi style. Different boxes with sleek futuristic designs.
We met up together and I presented the ideas. At the end we went with the city design. And at that point I also thought about actually using the graphite-pencil style for the actual game graphics. More about that later.