Concept Breakdown: Exterior Training Modules
published Monday, 11 July 2011, 14:00 by Cotta
Let me take you through the step by step process of creating an environment concept from start to finish in this DevBlog (my first) featuring a new piece I just finished.
This is a pretty standard process for concept artists throughout the industry, but that does not mean that I stick to it each and every time. It really varies a lot, depending on the type of piece that I am doing. Sometimes I will skip steps, or go back and forth between them as I see fit. Other times I get a screenshot of a 3D model to start out with, and other times, I will rely heavily on photo-reference. It is a very fluent and shifting thing really. Whatever gets the job done, anyway lets begin with the final result:
Step 1: Blockout/Thumbnail
Usually when I begin a concept, the first step is a thumbnail blockout. These are based on a loose description of the piece from Kim, and whatever mood boards and reference photos he has ready for me. I try not to concern myself with the particular small details of the image, but rather making something that works as a whole.
I start by fudging around with blocks and shapes and colors until i have some interesting compositions. I usually make a bunch of these before settling on a direction that I feel is good for the task at hand.
Step 2: Perspective Grid
Step 3: Line Drawing
Then I make a line drawing. At this point, I sit down with Kim, and talk a bit about his ideas about design and the actual elements that make up the the piece. As you can see, the perspective grid provides a valuable framework for my line-work. I don't always do a line drawing, because I automatically commit a lot more to the end result somehow, and that can really restrict creative impulses. But in this particular case it made sense.
Step 4: First Color Pass
Now it is time to make the first color pass. First I make a layer containing the background, then I start filling in the buildings and the platforms and other elements. At this point, I concern myself with the larger shapes, and try to establish the overall color palette and feel that I am going for.
Step 5: Adding Details
At this point I start to concern myself a little more with the details and design. This particular piece was pretty straightforward, but at this stage, I might decide to make some pretty radical design changes, which can take a lot of time.
Step 6: More Details and Refining
Step 7: Rendering
At this stage, I am refining all the details and edges, and concentrate on balancing out all the different elements in the image. It's a bit of a two steps forward, on step back process, where I am constantly zooming in and out, and flipping the image to see whether my changes actually work in the larger context of the image.
Step 8: Final Pass. Adding mood light
Now that all my rendering is done, and my elements are in place, I try to add some lights and shadow to inject some drama into the image and make a nice framing. I also play around a bit with the contrast and color values a bit, to see if I can add a little punch to the image that way. Also, I usually add a slight sharpening effect to the image to make it pop a little more. Finally I add my signature, sit back in my chair, take a sip of coffee and I am done. Cheers
I hope you guys found this little breakdown interesting. To tell you the truth, I have only covered my work process in the briefest and most general way, and I could talk for hours on end about every little decision I make along the way, contradicting myself a million times and probably talk myself into confusing loops and circles, ending up with some ridiculous philosophical statement about how everything is really nothing and how cool it would be if the zombie apocalypse actually came to pass.
So instead I will just quote the wise words of my old ZPS colleague and good pal Shaun: "I just wanna draw stuff".