Initial Ideas, Making a Decision and Preparation.

For the honours project I originally had three potential ideas, all 3D Environment based, and the first few weeks were about deconstructing those ideas and definining their pros, cons and what opportunities they could provide regarding my own personal development, learning and portfolio.

Initial Ideas:

  1. 3D Environment: Village ‘Kit’
  2. 3D Environment focusing on in-game graphic design & 2D art.
  3. 3D Environment running in-engine: Game environment based on concept-art.

I went into detail on each of these projects but I’ve archived the posts for those as I wanted to allow the blog to focus on the final idea. The decision process had taken up around five blog posts *eye roll*. I will save these posts for documentation later.

After some consideration and feedback from lecturers and other students, I opted for idea #2, as this project would allow me to incorporate elements of both 1 & 2, as it is still possible to take a modular approach with the assets and concept art is a natural part of any self-directed environment art project. Idea #2 allows me to challenge myself in the areas of 3D environment art as well as 2D art for 3D environments, hopefully resulting in a substantial portfolio of work.

Breakdown of Idea #2

  • Small to medium sized environment such as a street corner.
  • Simple 3D art style with minimal textures but a stronger focus on 2D art such as posters, billboards, signs, graffiti, litter.
  • Explore how much an environment’s setting, time period, mood and possibly narritive can be driven and/or changed using only the 2D aspect of environment art.
  • Fairly simplistic underlying environment. High detailed 2D art placed into the scene.

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Note: in these examples the overall level design is still very distinctive, I would strive to make sure the rest of the level takes a back seat, but in the above images you can see how ‘in your face’ in-game posters can be.

The traditional graphic design process; typography, shape, colour, logo design play a key role in establishing the time period and setting of the game as well as informing the narrative.

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Since I want to try and focus more on the 2D art, I need the workload to be less heavy on modelling and texturing the level and more on making the posters, that’s going to be a challenge.

I took to the internet to try and find some examples of the level of detail that may be able to make this possible.

Current-era neighbourhoods, especially in Britain tend to have Victorian-Era buildings still intact, so an environment like that could work with this idea as it could span various time periods. I would like the appearance to be slightly cartoony but not as simplistic as the first idea. A few blocks and a road with buildings on both sides should suffice, with a few extra props like street lights and foliage, taking care to make it as timeless as possible. Reusing assets will be essential, but I’m hoping the posters and billboards will disguise the repetition.

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Another approach could be a diorama or much smaller slice of arcitecture, by cutting out all the extras, this would allow me to go into even more detail.

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The above example is of course really stylised, but it shows that a vertical slice could work just as well and at the same time cut out all the time consuming extras.

Looking at Graphic Design in Urban Environments

I did some reference gathering on street advertising from different eras. This is a selection from the 40’s and 50’s; there is a lot of hand-lettering and the paint is usually faded due to less durable materials and the length of time the signs would be left up, due to them being painted directly onto walls. Road markings are absent.

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Sources

Going forward in time, neon signs started appearing, this time with the photos in colour which helps. Advertising design starts getting more bold with shapes, some even breaking free from their boundaries and standing proud of structures. Road markings are more common.

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Sources

Looking at the current era is a strange one for this task. Design is much more conservative; creative typography has been replaced with minimalist sans-serifs with strange half-slogans and choppy formatting. The bold neon sign is replaced with actual TV screens and illustrations with photography. The overall aesthetic of a street full of adverts is less streamlined and more chaotic and ‘trashy’. Graffiti is even starting to parody advertising. Road markings are everywhere and are a big giveaway that were are looking a photograph of the present day.

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Sources

This project wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t speculate about the future, so I looked for some examples of futuristic street scenes. The current trends in art that depicts the future of street advertising seem to follow the same interesting pattern; the minimalism of present day tastes in typography and simple 1-word slogans combined with the ultra-neon of the 60’s and 70’s. Street and shop signs are a sheer neon holographic plane, and the colour scheme is less red and yellow and more blues, violets and pinks. The whole city gives off blue light polution intsead of the current orange. Road markings are probably neon at this point as well.

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Sources

Looking across the different eras, the volume of street advertising has been increasing with each decade, so much so that artists’ impression of the future city street have the environment littered with neon adverts, with some floating in the sky due to there being no room on buildings anymore.

I would need to thoroughly concept a strong underlying 3D environment upon which I can build the base for all this 2D art. The more I have been looking at references, the simpler I intend on making the basic scene, perhaps opting for flat textures. The 2D art and lighting will do the bulk of the work in fleshing out the environment.

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