Friday, 12 August 2011


My first attempt at a full digital paint using the default brush

LAME attempt at sculpting, bad anatomy lol, Legs are to short and the arms are not humanly possbile!

I uploaded at the beginning of my blog the outline of the Pilot building I sketched, for my archectural peice, and creating shuttings instead of open window- I finally did it ~
The floor is realy lame though..
(Default PS brush)

This was a masters painting created in oil paint on canvas - (Orignal Painting by George Braque)
It took me 3 days to finish that canvas, and at the end.. I noticed the orginal had alot more darker areas.. and had more dominant bold brush strokes, I didnt want to add black beacuse If i made a mistake it easily ruined the canvas which is unchangable and didnt have time to repaint a new one

I actually didnt use the default brush for this, I downloaded some new brushes.. and picked one haha, I didnt have time to experiement, so It came out that way.. however i didnt really like the brush i picked in the end, It came out to cartoony, I prefer realsim.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Personal Review of the first year

Starting my first year, I was overwhelmed with the amount of work we get, compared to other degrees done by my dorm friends, however.. considering the circumstances and nature of the course, it is vital to push your skill level to the high standards the game industry require you to be at in 3 years’ time.  I had problems overcoming the steep learning curve barriers, of learning new software’s and drawing techniques, in four things mainly, 3DS Max, Photoshop, Perspective, and Rendering techniques. I’ve learnt, before I can even start being creative and producing decent work, I need to understand the basic principle of each one, and how they work comfortably.
Positive Points
·         I have really enjoyed the game Industry lecture talks we have had over the year. I get so much from it, and inspire you to no end, and it’s really a privilege to be a part of that.
·         Regular life drawing classes throughout the year, is really important towards your drawing development skills; I am happy it was available consistently.
·         The curriculum and content of the course is good. When I did Art A Level I never learnt anything about environment perspective. A big part of it is the way it’s taught; you no longer draw from images, rather than real life.
·         The thing I like about the course, is there are 3 parts, which are all connected to each other like a cog-wheel; they need each other.  Visual design creates your basic artistic core; it teaches you the principle of perspective, human anatomy and colour theory which translates to game production, helping with your environment and character creation in 3ds Max. Critical studies helps change the way you think in terms of the way the game works, art direction in film and the basic history and technology of games which all help each other.
·         You get the opportunity to go into workshops for usage of art facilities, e.g. wood, soft modelling etc. which is an extra luxury that can assist you in your sculptor modelling.
·         Writing is one of my weak points, and don’t particularly enjoy writing essays. I really like the fact Critical studies is introduced in a Blogging fashion; it leaves and gives you more creativity and opinion. And definitely more appealing then handing in 20 word documentation essays.. every year, it also gives you a chance to review your class mates blogs and see how they think.
Suggestive Improvements
·         The Visual Design room is very cramped; it feels like the room was created for 10 people in mind, when there’s five times the amount. A bigger room, with tables designed to accommodate still life objects rendered from different angles effectively. (On one side of the room) Projector and chairs for lectures talks and White board for demonstration tutorials on perspective etc. on the other side.  
·         Life Drawing class is cramped; if you don’t get a box stump or a stand up canvas holder, you’re stuck with the floor, because there’s so many people. You don’t really get a good view of the model.  I think splitting the groups would be handy or finding another room.
·         I would have liked Photoshop being taught in year one;most people’s final pieces in Visual design are done in Photoshop, so It’s a shame we don’t get taught it.
·         I don’t feel enough feedback is given throughout the course. In formative assessment, your more informed of what you didn’t do then on feedback on what you did do.
I think both equally are very helpful.
·         I feel year 1 grading system is too high, considering it’s a learning period. It’s a lot harder to get a 65% since you spend 90% of your time.. Learning the software, drawing and colouring techniques to get to high standards. Its puts keeping your scholarship at a disadvantage.
·         Video tutorials in 3DS Max, would be more handy then PFDS; they’re a lot easier to follow and don’t miss out chunks of detail your expected to know already.
Overall I am really disappointed in myself; I did not get to the skill level I expected at the end of the year. I will use summer vacation to correct this. A big part of this problem was time management and self-discipline and organisation.
I really enjoyed my first year, and liked the content and curriculum of the course. The teachers definitely know their stuff and lectures can be inspiring. I do sometimes feel my brain can’t keep up with the amount of information they throw at me.. and am intimidated to ask for help, in case they think I’m stupid. If I am struggling understanding something, I start to get frustrated, get migraines and really annoyed; I don’t know how to fix the problem. Not being able to overcome such a thing, can break you from accomplishing your goal; I am not ready to give up!

Monday, 2 May 2011


The game environment needs to be designed and constructed in a way to be able to assist and navigate the player through a level.
As humans we find our way by landmarks. It could be a major supermarket, pub, or clubs. So naturally in video games, decorative navigation is one of the key formulas to help the audience remember distinguished locations in the level.
This can be accomplished by the logo design of the building. Does it stand out, or mean anything in connection to the story and objectives?  The use of colour scheme… What does that colour represent?  In some cases, clans, tribes or just companies of some sort have a certain colour code, so it is easily recognised among their target audience. This method is also used in games.  One big example of this is Unreal tournament maps, more often than not, each side of the maps are identical, however the colour coding of majority of the wall textures and lighting reflect the team colours base, whether its red or blue.
This indicates direction to the player and tells them where they are and where to go.

Unreal Tournament CTF Map

The type of assets you decide to put in the environment suggests questions to the player; why it is there which affects the atmosphere.
This reflects deeply on the story behind the environment history and its architecture.  A lot of questions need to be asked in creating this atmosphere.
What time era is the environment set?
This reflects on the type of material you would use for the buildings.
What type of foliage grows in the environment?
This may suggest the type of season the environment is currently in.
Most important are lighting and weather conditions. This has a major influence on the atmosphere effect. The most effective way of getting the maximum potential out of your environment is creating great atmospherical ambience. This can be achieved by taking your own reference material, this not only means you get to take photos of every single piece of detail in the scene for detailed modelling and texture usage, but also get a feel for the actual environment itself and how it makes you feel; how spacious is it?
Each part brought together correctly can produce amazing environments.

The realism factor in video games is based primarily on reference material, which is not solely used by the artist. Programmers, animators and visual effect artists, will also want to know how the foliage moves in the scene with the weather, what kind of special effects will not look out of place and blend in to the atmosphere. Each artist sees the world differently having their own interpretation of the way they look at things. This adds different art stylisation to the design, which gives a healthy balance to video games developing their own uniqueness.
This done incorrectly, can hinder players belief in the game world, which could be badly placed props with no meaning e.g.  French road signs on the streets of Chicago, or a famous London bridge in Mexico. What the game industry has to consider is, games are contributed all over the world, and people will see this as familiar and notice these faults.

Mass effect 2

I particularly like ME2 - Lair of the Shadow Broker environment scenery, concept by Matt Rhodes. A major part of Mass Effects feature theme was inspired by Blade runner movie concepts produced by Syd Mead. In keeping with the futuristic sci fi technology, flying vehicles and the look of the film (darkness, neon lights and opacity of vision).

Blade Runner Movie

Directed by – Ridley Scott
Concept Art – Syd Mead

Blade Runner has always been an iconic looked upon inspiration and has been used in a wide range of medias to create beautiful scenery. People can gain inspiration from any media whether it’s music, books, movies, people or the world they live in. Inspirational based creations can always be a strength as you automatically want to create something bigger and better than what they produced.
This plays proof in the book written by Philip K. Dick – Androids dream of electric sheep, which was what Blade Runner was originally founded upon.

Derek Watts Art Director – Mass Effect Video clip

Adreien Cho Art Producer – Mass Effect

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Characters from a book are detailed significantly in extensive words, since there is no imagery. It lets your imagination run wild, and plays out your own interpretation in your mind.
For this reason, depending on the author, I believe characters in books can be as effective with the right imagination but it isn’t for everyone.
In TV and Film, characters have the advantage of visual facial expression, expressing pain, anger and happiness, through acting. The advantage and disadvantages depend on how good the actor plays the character, the right character chosen for the part (will the characters connect naturally and believably) and how effective the script is.
In my opinion, if watching a TV program or Movie, in the space of time from start till finish you were so engrossed in their experience, you forget they are acting, it means the characters and script have done their job.
The techniques used to make the audience respond to characters, are made from numerous factors, their acting, their connection with other actors, the script and their appearance.
After watching any character for no more than 5min you automatically know if you can relate and believe what they’re saying, whether it’s a random conversation that means nothing or a serious life and death matter.  If the actor can pull off everyday realism, what we go through (normality) it makes us respond positively.
Appearance is extremely important in character choice. As an audience, it is the first thing we see and judge by. This can play a big part in stereotypical imagery, for example a teenage guy with a hoody rapping in a part, would come over as normal, but play a 50 year old guy in that exact part, would give a whole different response to that character. It would not be taken as seriously.
In film, most people get their parts because their face fits; whether they can act the part comes second. It just shows what an impact appearance plays in characters.
A bad script can make the best of actors look bad. Each part plays a crucial role in the final end product. Failure to do so in any of the above can cause a bad response.
The type of stories I find irresistible are mainly Asian dramas. I become quite addicted!.
There is a type of formula they use for Asian dramas that work. I find British and American dramas rarely have this with a few exceptions. 
It’s very important for the story to build up the character’s personality throughout the story, whether it’s their innocence, rebellious nature, or being plain misunderstood showing their change overtime.
If not done correctly, the viewer will not care, or sympathise with the character. You want your audience to feel something and make a connection with the story and what’s happening to the characters in it.
With Asian Romance dramas especially, the build-up of how the characters begin to like each other is very important. If the script and characters are not believable and have not been put through much effort to get there, the bond and chemistry will be lost and the audience will not care.

Devil Beside You

Art Direction

Art Directors need leadership abilities responsible for building a team establishing their visual style and quality consistency. This can include overall game assets, environment lighting, character direction, menu HUD, websites and branding.
The job role of an art director is to communicate visual ideas to their team, through documentation, example assets, mood boards, key drawings, art style and colour swatches. This job is vital to the games fast progression and final end product, as each team member needs to have the same vision in mind when creating there characters and assets.
Art Directors also have the pleasure of recruiting potential art employees and outsourcing groups. Making this decision can have a good effect on the game, instead of being landed with a team you don’t know the potential of. They get to take control on whether your skills can produce what they envision.  Art Directors work with Senior Producers and Design Directors to ensure the art direction fits in with the overall project goals. 

The amount of responsibility and control art directors have over a game project expresses just how creative the role actually is.  The important decisions they make, involve setting the visual tone, quality, and style for the game, environment composition and the placement of each prop in the location. Does the prop support the story, the feel and impression of the game?
Good art direction can speak for itself, telling a story without words being spoken. It’s the same with a concept design. If the drawing, placement of objects within the piece, can tell a story to the viewer through image, then it’s definitely a good concept.

Not only does placement play an essential role in art direction, equally colour tone and texture does, as a colour pallet can represent feeling, whether it’s shades of orange, brown, yellow (warmth) or blue, green, black (cold). It gives mood in a scene, or even a character. Does the character wear bright colourful clothes, to represent their personality or dull mild tones?
All these things are what the art director has to think about, and can be the most creative role in the game industry.

The future qualities you would need to develop to be become an art director would be
·       A deep understanding of 2D and 3D software packages (Photoshop, 3DS Max, Maya, ZBrush, Mudbox)
·       Advanced understanding of Motion principles and Animation
·       +3 - 5 years professional experience in leading art production team in the game or film/TV Industry, as an Art Director or Lead Artist.
·       Solid communication and problem solving skills
·       Must be strategic, with an eye for detail, great commitment towards deadlines and delivering high quality art on time and within budget.
·       Experience managing multiple projects, motivational, priorities, schedule, and deadlines with a strong attention to detail.
·       Solid understanding of architecture, perspective, human character anatomy, gesture, clothing, art direction and storytelling/boarding
·       Broad understanding and interest in visual art outside of game industry world, e.g traditional art, photography, sculpting etc. 
·       Demonstrated ability to direct and multi-task effectively under pressure, while balancing speed and quality of the work.
·       Passion for making and playing video games, with an awareness of current titles and industry trends.

I bet you’re thinking.. wow that’s a lot right?
Art Directors have to oversee a whole team of individuals that produce and work on different mediums, whether its concept artists, character and environment modellers, animation team, audio team, visual effects, technical and graphic & user Interface artists etc. This means it’s very important to have insight on how everything works for the vision to come into play.  Not to mention the managerial role of delegating, problem solving, organisation, budgeting, deadline steadiness and keeping the art direction of a high quality consistency. 

Sunday, 17 April 2011


Even though next generation consoles keep drastically improving in overall performance, the basic objective “Character collects objects, evades, kills enemies” (Pacman) still runs through most platform adventure games as a basic principal.
Gameplay is what helps video games evolve into more exciting and complex situations, involving strategies to kill the enemy.

The job of a game designer isn’t just to create the idea of a game, but to define the Systems, Mechanics and Levels. A game designer can evolve around any media, from card games, social games and board games. Board and Card games are physically interactive, which gives the player more control after the rules have been set. Board games are less complicated, and are mainly for multiple players.
Most offline video games only cater for one or two players, with the exception of some.
Traditional board games in general like monopoly tend to make players wait their turn.
Gameplay involves player interaction with a game to overcome its objectives, as opposed to non-interactive reading books and movies.

A key skill a game designer should have is communication; they may be working under their Lead designer/Producers, and will also have to communicate their ideas across to the Artists, Programmers, Audio team and even PR Business and Marketing.
Each individual will think differently and always have something to bring to the table. It is vital they can take constructive criticism and change or be done with an idea that will not work.
Personal attachment needs to be left at home.

The game design process starts with an idea/pitch which may entail information such as platform type, audience range, stylisation, concept, plot ideas, who and how many staff needed, timescale among other things just to get the ball rolling.
Whether the pitch is accepted is another entirely different matter. Things to take into consideration are feasibility of deadline completion, scope and budget.
A game documentation is then made in more detail, which is continuously edited throughout the game creation process.

In early video game history, programmers took the job of the game designers as the designs were very simple and limited in the 1970s.
As consoles and software improve overtime, game graphics, story and game play become more complex needing team members solely for game design, instead of being shared with programmers.
Today, games designers share this responsibility with game design producers, lead designers and general game designers as the workload is increasing with the ever growing facilities.
For me, game play can make or break a game no matter how good the visual experience of the world environment and characters appear.
It is very easy, to make gameplay simple and repetitive with the objectives given.

“Find this crate, kill 7 rabbits that drop this?, then kill another 10 birds that drop this”

I find, it becomes tedious, and lose interest..
I prefer when the objectives start to actually mean something, when it’s incorporated correctly within the story.
E.g “Distract the guards, spike the guards drink, search guard for key, key opens prison cell to your freedom”
It becomes less of an implanted game objective, and becomes a fight for survival to protect your character.  It is something you want to do, rather than something it’s telling you to do that has no purpose.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Yakuza Game Review

The storyline of Yakuza was accomplished by having a well-known famous Japanese novelist Hase Seishu write the story script instead of game producers. For me, this is what kept me playing; you want to find out what happens next which really was the main success for the game including the cinematic cut scenes which carried the storyline flow in more depth.    After being purposely framed for a crime he did not commit, Kazuma Kiryu’s released out of jail 10 years later. He finds out things have changed; his journey has just begun.

The free roam is a core part of the game, allowing you to explore the Tokyo like town which has been created from licensed shops specifically delivering an authentic feel of realism, freely without being stuck in one certain place. This allows you more freedom and choice with where you want to go next, and what you want to do however this is where random encounters appear from yakuza thugs, street gangs, or random hooligans that want your money. At the beginning you will find yourself constantly smashing the square button, however as you progress through the plot and storyline that hooks you in, the game play fighting method's and strength build up, allowing you to train multiple techniques.

In part of the game you have to look after a little girl you’re protecting that is vital to your main end mission, taking her to fun places for example the batting cages. Beating your opponent will gain loyalty with the girl, which when filled up unlocks special items, taking her to arcades, winning a certain teddy bear, using photo booths, and buying her, her favourite food and drinks. I believe special inputs like this, which is not relevant to main game play, allows you to explore the extra fun areas of the game that make it less repetitive, also letting you build a friendship with the character. If you take her to a secret gambling joint behind the lotto bar she helps you win a lot of money. A side mission I came across outside a Strip club was helping the owner guard her entrance working as a bodyguard from hooligans. After beating numerous bad guys you receive a generous sum of money which helps you on your main mission. The extra missions keep the game interesting.

The game became so successful with RPG/Action Adventure players the company later produced a sequel Yakuza 2 for console Playstation 2 released in Japan on December 7th 2006 and have developed a further two sequels for console Playstation 3.