Introduction to Digital Art

Digital art is something completely new to me, I've always enjoyed doodling on paper before going to bed or to pass the time on boring coach journeys but doing it digitally without the physical pen and paper, without having to constantly rub out my mistakes or even worse, stick with them when drawing in pen, it just didn't feel right!

So before diving in with my digital art projects for Visual Design, I wanted to get used to using my shiny new drawing tablet by doing some of usual doodles on photoshop and simply seeing how they turned out.

After a frustrating first hour of getting used to not having to look down at my pen I was hooked! Digital art is so much simpler than having to draw on paper, ctrl-z makes everything a whole lot easier and quicker by deleting my mistakes in no time at all! I quickly learned how useful drawing on different layers can be when merging outlines with colour and blending in different tones.

Granted, my artwork is certainly not the best there is, not even relatively close! But I really have enjoyed just doodling on photoshop and seeing what I can draw. Using layers and different brush types really opens up the possibilities of what I can create in a much shorter amount of time.

My plan is to draw for fun at least once a week to keep practising these skills and see them progress as well as using it as a nice break from my normal studies. Something productive yet really fun!

Life Drawing

I hadn't drawn with charcoal from real life for a couple of years until starting this course so am still very rusty at life drawing but I find that attending these classes once a week has helped me to understand my drawing style and become more confident.

This confidence develops by having a very short time frame to draw the person in a certain position until they move into another one, so I have no other choice than to trust my instincts and draw as I see the person stood in front of me, not worrying too much about the details. My charcoal strokes tend to be quite timid and raspy but I am working on building up my skills to make more confident, fluid lines.

Life drawing often is also great to help me understand proportions of a human body in relation to itself as well as it's surroundings. I didn't realise that I naturally draw heads a bit larger than they actually are, this is probably because of my love for doodling cartoonish characters! I have made a conscious effort to correct these proportion errors when doing my life drawing.

We use plenty of techniques other than charcoal within these life drawing classes which take me away from my artistic comfort zone such as using different mediums of drawing and techniques such as drawing simultaneously with both the left and right hands or using a rubber to show the highlighted parts of the model on a totally blackened canvas.

I feel that these life drawing classes are helping me greatly with my understanding of proportions and drawing styles.

Watch my video about contrasting shadows on YouTube:

Understanding Maya - 3D Art Production & Gameplay and Interactivity

A huge part of Computer Game Arts is 3D modelling through 3D computer graphics software. The majority of games nowadays have moved on from the art style of 2D pixels on a screen, with technology being far more advanced and enabling players to experience more realistic and true-to-life gameplay visuals. This is done through 3D modelling and these models aren't only used for games but can also be a means of creating 3D animation and special effects in films! So, with all of this in mind, I am very excited and determined to not only understand how to create these models but to put in a lot of effort to do it well so that I can have fun using it and be able to experiment with how my models can be used. (I've even noticed that 3D environments can be used to produce 360 YouTube videos, but more on that in the future...)

As I am creating both a Battle Arena and a Walkthrough Game simultaneously for this course I needed to create 3D models for both of them. The software that I'm learning is Maya, a well known 3D computer graphics software which is widely used to create interactive 3D applications ranging from games to animations and visual effects.

When I first started using Maya it took me a while to understand and remember the keyboard shortcuts and overall techniques on how to build object from blocks, extruding and manipulating wire meshes. It's entirely different from drawing in 2D art and because of this I found it difficult to start from a blank scene and create what I wanted from my mind.

So instead I started with a tutorial! I built this cartoon house from a series of YouTube videos that I had found and got to witness first hand the commentators thought processes as he was creating the house which helped me to understand how to go about customising the shapes and using the different tools as well as some very useful time saving tips such as using the outliner tool to group everything together instead of having to combine meshes all of the time just in case I still wanted them to stay separate to add changes, but was then still able to move things around as a group instead of individually. This also taught me to think ahead when creating my models to think about texturing and what will happen if I need to import it into Unity3D. For example, in the house above the door has a separate panel to add some depth to the texturing and I had to make the door separate from the house if I wanted to import it and animate to open and close for gameplay in Unity.

Once I had created this house I found it a lot easier to begin modelling the rest of my environment assets (the environment below is for my walkthrough game). I could reuse shapes I had created before and simply modify them to suit another asset that I needed instead of having to start from a basic object every time which saved a lot of time. Below I have made a gate, fence, cobbled path, well and a speaker in half the time that it took me to create the house (which was a day) just by reusing parts of it.

Josef from Machinarium - Character modelling
I wanted to give myself a challenge after having grasped the very basics of modelling and tasked myself with creating a 3D model of the robot protagonist Josef from the point-and-click game, Machinarium. (It's a cute and overall awesome game for those of you that haven't played it, and if you haven't, go do so, NOW!  :) )

I started from his tube body, changing the width divisions lower than 20 to make him look a little less smooth and more clunky to keep with the old steampunk art style and created the shape of the protruding pipes by extracting different layers out and repositioning them to make them thinner or wider, then redoing that over and over and over, the whole time being careful to try and create the curves that I wanted when I reached his head. I then used the multi-component select tools to select either points or lines of the mesh and move them around individually, or created more points and lines by using the multi-cut or insert edge-loop tools. For the eyes, arms and legs I created them separately using the same extruding method and then placed them where I wanted on Josef's body and merged the mesh together to create one overall object.

I'm really happy with what I was able to create and think he looks pretty spot on, a little chubbier, but a little podge is cute!

I became inspired by the first YouTube videos that I watched on learning how to create the cartoon house and how much it helped me to just see someone's thought processes when learning Maya and so have uploaded my own video on creating a ladder to YouTube. It's a simple object to create but through watching the video you can much easier see my techniques and understanding of the different tools within Maya to create the object as well as when things go wrong and how I go about fixing them, it's much easier to watch me create something that read about me babbling on about my learning processes through Maya (although you already have done so THANK YOU!) so if you need more information of how I have learnt to 3D model and how I create my models then have a watch :)

Coma - Walkthrough Game Map and Interactions

Above is a rough sketch of the layout and main interactions that will happen within my walkthrough game, Coma. I want the game environment to seem open and vast, but with the player being restricted to  path and between fences off areas. When the player descends down below the well the environment will be small and claustrophobic so as to unsettle the player, darkness will surround them as well to increase the tension felt within the game. 

The main interactions within the game will be:
  • When the player wakes up in a cramped cottage and exits through the door to find the cobbled path leading them through a small village outside lined with speakers.
  • When the player noticed the well and hears the cries for help below, interacting with it will tell the player that the well is boarded up and they need to find something to break to boards.
  • A little further down the path they will find the chopped up logs and be able to interact with the axe, holding it within their hand (this should be visible within the first person camera view).
  • They then get to use the axe with the well and descend into the dark, cave-like place below to follow the cries for help.
  • The last interaction is when they find the old record player and press the interaction button to make the record stop spinning, causing them to be surrounded by darkness apart from the words "Wake Up" appearing on the cave wall.

Coma - Game Walkthrough Storyboard

For my 3 minute walkthrough game I have created this simple storyboard for me to refer to when creating the game. As this game can be no longer than 3 minutes I made sure to keep it simple, however I did include at least 3 different interactions within the game for me to create through using C# in Unity3D.

The game will start with the player waking up in a small, cartoon-like cottage, preferably with some oddly upbeat music playing that the player can optionally leave on or turn off before leaving the cottage. Upon leaving the house they will then find a cobbled pathway with speakers and other cottages aligning either side, like a small quaint village with no people. The player can hear muffled commands coming from the speakers but can't quite make them out and the protagonist will have some text pop up narrating how he wonders where everyone is. Walking a little further down the cobbled path the player will then hear distant screams coming from a boarded up well marked 'Danger'. To open the well and see what the source of the screaming is they have to carry on down the cobbled path until they reach a fenced off forest with some cut down tree stumps, where they will find an axe and be able to pick it up and use it on the boarded up well. However, upon descending down the well into a dark and dingy cave they realise that the noise is actually coming from an old record player. The atmosphere in the cave is to be a lot more spooky and unnerving than that of the village to make the player nervous about approaching the record player and why these cries for help are being played. Once the player approaches the record player and stops it playing all goes suddenly black and a voice calls out saying; 'WAKE UP'. That is then the end of the walkthrough and the introduction to Coma!

Coma - Walkthrough Game One Sheet

For the Gameplay and Interactivity unit within Computer Games Art I am going to be building a walkthrough game using my own modelled assets and scene in Maya and then importing it into Unity3D to create at least 3 different interactive elements within the 3 minute walkthrough game. The aim is to create a certain atmosphere using only the greybox assets, lights, audio and of course the interactions themselves.

The game I have decided to make is called Coma. Above is the One Sheet for the game which explains in detail what the narrative if the game is as well as the more technical aspects:

The X (simply the blurb of the game):
When trapped inside your own imagination there's no knowing what lays around the corner. Can you follow the voices of your loved ones to find your way back to reality?

The 4 Pillars (What defines the gameplay of your game):
  • No weapons to be found or used within the game.
  • No health meter so cannot die. However the player can 'get lost within the coma', never returning to reality.
  • Can't hold more than one object at a time.
  • Collect drawings within the game to help the player recall how they got in the coma in the first place. These pictures can be viewed in the pause menu.
Story / Goals:
Being trapped inside your own mind is far from fun and games. Decipher reality from imagination to delve deep into your subconscious and find out how you became trapped within a coma in the first place. The voices of those from the real world will guide you. Collect pages of drawings of your past to help jog your memory. Only once you face the truth will you truly be able to wake up to reality, or risk becoming trapped as a prisoner in your own mind forever.

Gameplay Mechanics
  • First person gameplay so that the player is constantly immersed in the narrative as much as possible.
  • Space bar to jump (or X on PlayStation, A on Xbox)
  • Left click to pick up / use (or Square on PlayStation, X on Xbox)
  • Esc to go to the pause menu (or Start)

Other Information - Theme, aesthetics, technology:
Coma will be created for PC and consoles. It will have dream-like graphics, using vibrant and garish colours but still keeping it relatively resembling real-life graphics. This will give it a more exaggerated, dark cartoon-like feel and ultimately create an unsettling and eerie atmosphere. Using washed out colours will help with the dream-like aesthetics which will stay in line with the narrative of the game.

The Players Piece (about the game protagonist):
The players name will never be mentioned as it is not important, only his memories and the narrative that plays within his subconscious and 'reality' matters. When he is drifting away from reality he sees himself as a well-kept man, healthy, clean and shaven; as he was before entering the coma. However, once he starts to accept reality nearer the end of the game he realises that he is actually in the hospital, wearing a hospital gown, messy and unshaven as he has been there for quite some time. He will never be heard speaking within the game as I believe that would take the player away from being truly immersed in the game and remind them that they are a third person viewer within the unrolling narrative. However I will include narrational text every now and then for prompting the player in the right direction and giving clues as to his emotional state. 

Game Arena Scamps

Using my moodboard as a reference I scamped out my game arena to visualise it before I start the 3D model process. I decided that I definitely wanted to make my arena underwater because I know that later on I will be animating elements of it and adding a statue; having the arena underwater offers lots of potential for animation by adding fish, bubbles and seaweed in the sea, swaying to the motion of the waves. I also still really like the idea of mixing the eerie elements of Bioshock with the simple and endearing cartoon-like design of Machinarium and feel that having the arena underwater will stay true to Rapture as I can play around with the exaggerated shadows like they did. Making a mechanical ship was more influenced by Machinarium as the game includes a world dull of robots and, because I wanted to copy that style of design, I wanted to make a robot-like sunken boat!

The boat will include objects such as a treasure chest of nuts and bolts, a bar area, barrels and oil containers, pipes and even a secret hatch leading the player to the sea surrounding the boat if I get enough time. I love easter eggs in games as they are a reward to players who spend time exploring and really getting the most out of games so I think it would be awesome if I could include one in my game arena (being the secret hatch).

When I include my statue in my game I'd like it to be sunken within the sea just outside of the game arena and in view through glass windows. The statue will look like it has been sunken for a while, with moss on parts and perhaps a little broken too.

Perspective Drawing


I drew this simple one-point perspective drawing to demonstrate my skills when drawing with perspective in mind. One-point perspective drawings are created by drawing everything from a point on the paper by using straight lines protruding from the point.

I decided to draw a sci-fi scene from inside a space ship, with a window looking out to a nearby planet on the left and multiple doors columned on the right hand side of the drawing. Lights align the ceiling and arrows are aligned along on the window. This scene worked very well to show the different perspective of the corridor as I drew everything to become much smaller the closer it reached the point, staying true to the straight lines I drew from the point in the middle of the paper.

I then added a character within my scene to exaggerate the different perspectives even more as the robot is walking out of the foremost door.

Using water colour pencils I was able to add colour to the drawing, however I feel that I should have added more shading to exaggerate the perspectives more as that would help it look more 3D and realistic.

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