Tin Tower (Memory and Nostalgia)

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I was trying to do a cartoon effect when creating my city that is based off of Pokemon Gold. Meshes for the buildings were created using Maya, and textured with Mudbox. I imported these meshes into Unreal and tried to learn how to use the sculpting and paint tools. The tree meshes are from Uneal, but I changed the colours to match the trees in the game. I also hand-painted some of the textures in Photoshop, and used an NVIDA plug in to create normal maps for the grass and dirt textures I used to paint the scene. I had trouble fitting all the pictures onto the disk, so I have posted the rest of them on this blog.


Alien Desert (Shadows and Light)

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So here, I attempted to re-create my environment in Unreal Engine. I used the sculpting and painting tools once again. I also found some sand and rock texture packs to create the cliffs, sand and sand dunes. The red crystals were created using Maya, imported into Unreal. Then I used the Material editor to create a translucent sort of red.  I experimented with creating water and texturing the rock meshes. I also created ramps and depressions across the surface. I had some trouble trying to create the sand drifting across the surface. It ended up looking like smoke.

Forefront: Cuphead

Cuphead is a run and gun indie platformer. The trailer caught my eye due to the 1930’s cartoon style that is used for the game.  Studio MDHR have stated that the art style was inspired by Fleischer Studios, who created the Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons. Flesicher’s style is described as being lose, improvised with moments of surreal actions. This is the style that Studio MDHR have chosen to emulate, including the animation techniques used at the time.

Chad Moldenhauer, who had previously worked in graphic design, would hand-draw the animations and paint the backgrounds. However, he colourizes the characters using Photoshop.

Cuphead consists of a series of single-screen boss battles that can be tackled in any order thanks to a cutesy overworld. Its cartoony visuals and original jazz soundtrack make it stand out immediately, and its enemies are delightfully creative: giant mermaids, pirates, and even a skeleton train.

The art style chosen for this game is unusual, and immediately stands out. It is an interesting choice, combining a modern game with classic animation. The game really does look and feel like a cartoon.

Forefront: Sandstorm

In this indie game, the player is trying to make a pilgrimage across a desert in a sandstorm. Every day when the player wakes up, they must find their camel, (which has wandered off in the night) hook it up to the cart, and then try to drive in a straight line towards their destination. Unfortunately, the sandstorm reduces visibility. The camera angle is constantly changing. It swings back and forth, rotating around the player’s avatar. The player does leave footprints behind them, but the footprints are gradually eroded by the storm.

The art style is reminiscent of the old pixel style games. It is a very simple art style, yet it adds to the atmosphere.  The player is positioned in the centre, surrounded by the vastness of the desert. It is easy to get lost, lonely and feel overwhelmed. Objects do not come into view until the player gets close and some could be a mirage. I think this art style, while simple looking, actually tells us a lot about the situation and the game itself. It is an interesting concept, though it might be very frustrating to play!

This is type of atmosphere I am trying to create in my desert scene for the shadow and light project.

Forefront: Chambara

Chambara is a stealth fighting game being created by game design student Kevin Wong for the University of California. The art style was inspired by an episode of Samurai Jack where the titular character faces off against a robotic ninja that can perfectly blend in with any shadow. Jack counters this skill by revealing that he can blend in with the light.  Wong and a group of his fellow USC students are developing Chambara loosely based on a similar mechanic: one player blends in with the dark, and another with the light, and whoever finds the other first wins.

As a vector based game, Wong uses a “playcentric” method of game design, with a focus on rapid prototyping and frequent external playtesting.

The team have also worked hard to give the game its own identity and imbue it with their own tastes and personalities. Other influences include Metabolist architecture, the Mono-Ha art movement from 70s, and a lot of 90s Nintendo.

This is an extremely ambitious and imaginative project. The art style is vector-based with solid colours for the characters to blend into. Visually, it is amazing to look at, like the pages from a graphic novel. There is a strong emphasis on light and dark, and characters blend seamlessly into the environment. I hope this game will be made available to play soon, it looks very fascinating with a different take on the stealth genre.

Artists at the Forefront: Genndy Tartakovsky

Genndy Tartakovsky is a Russian-American animation director and producer. He is best known for creating the Cartoon Network animated television series Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, and Star Wars: Clone Wars and co-creating Sym-Bionic Titan.

Samurai Jack was a hugely ambitious series with a unique, cinematic style. Looking at his work, it is obvious that he was inspired by many different art styles, from anime to older western animation style cartoons like the Jetsons and Top Cat. A lot of his work has thick black outlines, a feature that is noticeably absent in Samurai Jack. This serves as a way to blend the characters with their backgrounds and make them seem more a part of their world. The backgrounds of Samurai Jack are distinctly abstract in a style somewhat reminiscent of both Chuck Jones and also more ancient oriental brush paintings. The abstraction serves as an excellent way to convey character emotion.

An example of the scenery in Samurai Jack

These days, he has moved on to Sony Pictures Animation, in which he directed Hotel Transylvania to both financial and critical acclaim.

The art style Genndy used for Samurai Jack was a huge source of inspiration for my Music and Animation project.

Artists at the Forefront: Ken Sugimori

Ken Sugimori is the artist who designs Pokémon. He created the look of all 151 Pokémon in the first games Pokemon Red and Blue, released in 1995. He has also developed conceptual artwork for the movies. For Pokémon Black and White, Sugimori directed a team of 17 people in designing new characters for the games, though he always drew the final designs.

Sugimori’s change of style over the years has been very noticeable. Initially, he used a stiff, lightly shaded style using watercolours. However, in recent years, his now digitally-produced drawings of people and creatures have had more muscle definition, shading, and more natural and fluid poses. When he begins a new character, his process normally involves making a rough sketch, then tracing it on to film paper while polishing it and making the illustration more professional looking. After that, he draws the character many times, changing its proportions until he is satisfied.

A example of his initial style, from the first game Pokemon Red and Blue (1995).

An example of his current style, for Pokemon Sapphire and Ruby.

I feel that Suigmori is a great example of progressing and improving his art. He started off with watercolours and now uses computers for the current generation of games. Looking at his Pokemon designs and concept art, it is obvious that he draws his inspiration from nature and real places. His style is bright and colourful, with clean lines and appealing to younger audiences. This is the type of style I was trying to emulate when making my Pokémon town models for nostalgia and memory.