Sunday, 5 January 2014

Character and Environment module learning outcomes.

1. Demonstrate a comprehensive and critical understanding of the issues relevant to character design in various contexts.

There are many issues that a concept artist must consider when creating character art, such as the audience, sillouette, consistency of design, colours, and brand recognition - for example the exaggerated proportions in the Warcraft franchise. All of these issues have different solutions depending on the context of the work. In my examples I will compare a professional context with that of my experience in a educational context.

When I created the artwork for the Blue Beetle redesign I did not take into account the previous iterations of Blue Beetle beyond the references given. Moreover I did not consider to a great degree the reactions of a radical redesign would have had on a previous fan base of the character. I was only really interested in designing a character that met the approval of my tutors, my own personal quality requirements and that met the learning outcomes established for this module.

In this respect the brief showed the first real difference between that of a professional brief, there was a complete freedom essentially to design a character that I wanted rather than a character that would get the approval of the fan base and intellectual property holders.

If I had done this work as a professional commission I would have had to take care with many different issues. For one there would have been significant brand requirements to take into account, for instance the logo of the Blue beetle, the characters proportions, and the colours used. An example of this stringent policy would be the previous brief set by Atomhawk games for the IP 'The Realm'. There was a large design document that specified references, colour schemes, locations and so on that the design had to adhere to, in this respect the briefs for our course are fairly open to interpretation using descriptions that are open to many interpretations.

Silhouette and shape design are an interesting problem, an example I would use would be my gang member designs for the Excelsior brief. I wanted the characters to look like they were enemies. As such I added spikes, hoods, covered faces, and tried to have specific poses which were designed to sell the characters as 'bad guys'. Moreover as a side note colour can be issue for characters like. Reds, yellows, dark tones, and 'warning' colours in general tend to symbolise threats, and therefore are useful for using in the designs of evil characters.

In a professional context I would have the alternative problems arisen from these issues to think of, what designs have been done before by the client? Does my work fit into the clients universe for example a realistic character would not fit into the Warcraft franchise. Does the colour scheme of my work fit the colour scheme of their previous designs, or will it look badly when in game – such as an icon not standing out. Is the design of the character hard to model, an example would be Mickey mouses ears which were designed two dimensionally and as such they do not work very well when modelled in their original shape. Another example would be the Sonic the Hedgehog design that did not work well in 3D due to its 2D origins.

I believe I can summarise the difference between a design done in a professional context and one that is being done in a educational context; as the design in a professional context is a product which his being made in most circumstances to make a profit and thus entails all the problems that become of this. And in a educational context the work for all intense and purposes is your own to use for the betterment of yourself and not for profit but to improve ones skill.

2. Demonstrate a comprehensive and critical understanding of techniques and methods appropriate to the chosen area of design

In the example of above you can see my use of thumb nailing and iterative design. Below is an example of my use of different environment concept techniques:

And lastly here are 2 my character design finals each using differing techniques in order to produce a unique visual interpretation of the same concept I.e the monk is highly rendered in a more realistic posed image which could be used more as a pitch concept or marketing piece, and the gang design is an example of a everyday concept art for use in furthering designs generally not seen outside of a studio or concept art book.

3. Act autonomously in the research and synthesis of visual materials to support and inform the creation of original concepts.

Above you can see a collection of the visual references I have used to inform the various work I have done in this module. The top left artwork by Ryan Church was used to see the visual language he used to depict various types of architecture which helped inform types of information I included in my environment designs.
4. Critically evaluate and defend your own work in the context of contemporary practice

The above picture is an example of a environment concept illustration. In contemporary practice these types of images are used to sell the mood and idea of a particular environment or intellectual property in one image. For instance in the below picture by the concept artist Annis Naeem for the film 'Snow White and the Huntsman' depicts a scene showing a fantastical castle, green rolling hills, knights, and a grand scale which are elements that can be seen in all of the films concept art.

Here is a link to Annis Naeem's blog where this picture among others was found:
In my environment painting I have tried to show a scene that is damp from rain trickling down from above, moody, run down area, mixed with a claustrophobic style of building placement to sell the idea of a city that has been built up to a great hight over time and architectural mixes this causes such as the more high tech look of the distant buildings and the central build, compared to the less sophisticated look of the foreground buildings. I have also tried to keep the piece looser and suggestive akin to the example by Annis Naeem, in order to not have a picture that has a strict design and has room to improve upon akin to a pitch illustration for a project.

Whilst I do not believe my work is as technically proficient as the example by Annis Naeem, I believe it does the same job so to speak by selling my take on the Excelsior brief. As such I feel I have produced a concept illustration that would work in the context of contemporary practice today and clearly indicates the direction I wished to take this project.

5. Explore, critically evaluate and implement the appropriate skills relevant to the creation of character design.

I believe this set of concept designs for my lower level style gang clearly show a progression in design, exploration into different directions and shows a critical analysis which has lead to a different outcome than what I had originally started with. And moreover show an appropriate use of character design skill in order to progress the design to its conclusion.

6. Operate ethically demonstrating critical understanding of the issues governing good practice.

As a concept artist it is important to participate in the following practices in order to be a good practitioner of the arts. Sighting use of references, not plagiarising intellectual properties or others works, keeping to NDAs, always asking permission before posting the work you have done for a client in a public space even if there is no NDA it is considered good practice, never unjustly criticising your competitors/clients and lastly it is important to be honest with clients such as telling them if you are unable to get work done on time or for instance not charging for unnecessary/unrelated costs when sighting your rates.

7. Demonstrate an independent and reflective approach to personal and professional development.

In the above environment pieces I decided to use to different perspectives in order to improve on my own use of perspective in my art which in previous modules has been an issue I had needed to address. I felt that to challenge myself was the best way to improve my work. Whilst I did learn a lot from these pieces I remembered that in the end I am trying to sell a concept and the second environment from the top down perspective was not doing this adequately. As such I decided to remake the image as the picture below, it has a much more simple 1 point perspective and is much looser and moodier, however as I mentioned in a previous learning outcome I feel it sells my take on the Excelsior project better than my other environments.

If I had the time I would remake the very first environment as well to better represent what I have learned from doing the more recent iterations on the designs.

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