Category Archives: Environment Design

Rise to Power – Card Art Pt.1

Having just finished the first batch of card art images for the basic version of Rule & Make’s Rise to Power, I thought it’d be nice to present them as a set. These have been as much fun to create as the game is to play. I’ll post the rest of the art (which was part of the stretch goals for the Kickstarter campaign) when they are complete. Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

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Rise to Power

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I’ve recently had the pleasure of creating card art for Rise to Power, an up and coming board game by Allen Chang and Alistair Kearney of Rule & Make . They are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to help get the game finished and made. If you’re an avid board gamer, head on over and help support the project. It’s certainly been a lot of fun to work on.

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CGMA Environment Design 1 with James Paick – week 8

Having not attended a Q & A session for my online class all semester, I finally made it to one at the ungodly hour of 4:30am. I had to attend at least one and it was good to be able to be there and communicate with James and to be able to thank him. I have come on leaps and bounds having taken the class. It has given me a lot of confidence in tackling environments and more ambitious concept pieces than I thought it would. Well worth it.

So here are the final pieces. With the top one I added a few more dragons in front of the mountain side so they would look as if they were swarming over it more. I also pushed the castle back a bit by adding a little haze to the upper reaches. The bottom pic went through a more drastic overhaul since the last update. I implemented the advice that was given, sharpened up a lot of areas and included the seagulls which gives the whole piece more depth.

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CGMA Environment Design 1 with James Paick – weeks 6 & 7

Week’s six and seven of the Environment Design 1 course focused on refining a one design each from week 5’s thumbnails. The use of photographs, to help not only texture the image, but also as a way of creating new shapes and designs was explored.

The top image is Week 7’s effort. I felt I owed the course a real solid effort, since last Week 6’s image (bottom) coincided with my trip back to Australia from the UK and I wasn’t able to give it the attention it deserved. I went with a more fantasy style image, with a castle stretching out to the sea being marched on by an army. I took the thumbnail and pretty much painted it again from scratch, making use of the painting on top of photos idea.

The bottom image is Week 6’s effort. This was probably the most successful of the thumbnails from Week 5, and certainly the most intriguing point of view. I used photos in this one to enrich the mechanics of the water mills design. This image was going in the right direction, but I was unable to give it the attention it needed to really make it look finished. Perhaps I will return to it and finish it off in the coming days.

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CGMA Environment Design 1 with James Paick – Week 5

Week 5 of Environment Design 1 centered on using textures within the designs, both to add character to the image, as well as inspire new shapes and ideas. Our assignment was to create 4 or more thumbnails around one theme. I chose as my motif buildings built on rocks protruding from the sea.

Following on from last week, I once again enjoyed creating these images. I’m finding it easier and quicker to get an image looking pleasing to my eye, which has a snowballing effect, as the confidence gained from one image feeds into the next. Next week we are to take one of these images and take it to final quality, so stay tuned.

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CGMA Environment Design 1 with James Paick – Week 4

This week we started to use colour. I’m afraid I only got three of the five images done this week. It seems to take me ages to get the image to a point where I feel like I’m liking it. Added to this is the fact that when I had to rush an image a couple of weeks ago just to fill out the assignment, the critique centered on the rushed image, rather than the two more finished pieces, thus covering a lot of things I might have attended to, had I given the image equal time. For this reason I have only submitted images that I have given fair attention to.

However, I did really enjoy this week’s assignments a lot more than weeks 1 to 3, which were a real chore, if I’m honest. I think this is because I started to use the lasso. I liked what I got out of it on the first image so much that by the third image I was using it for a lot of the image making, and doing very little actual painting. As you can probably tell, I’ve been looking at Robh Ruppel’s blog a lot recently.

There is a definite progression through the three images, the first being quite basic, while the last is comparatively rich. I’m learning a lot from the class, but what is becoming most apparent to me is less about the technique and skills, and more about my attitude towards environment design. When creating environments before I would get frustrated that the image wasn’t looking decent from a fairly early stage, and as a result I would get disheartened and this would put me off. Now I am forcing myself to get environments done and to a state where I’m happy with them, in the process learning that it takes time, but also proving to myself that I can do it.

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CGMA Environment Design 1 with James Paick – weeks 1, 2 & 3

Character art and design has always been my passion, as you might have guessed from the contents of this blog thus far. However, I have been well aware of a hole in my skill set in the shape of environment design for some time and recently I decided to do something about it. Getting a job as a concept artist is difficult enough, let alone if you just limit yourself solely to the character design side of it.

I’ve been a regular visitor and contributor to the cghub.com community (my gallery – ray.cghub.com) for quite a while now, and it was from here I learned of the Computer Graphics Master Academy, and the work of James Paick. He is a freelance concept artist working primarily in the games industry and has worked for such companies as Naughty Dog, NCsoft & EA, amongst others and he runs two classes on for CGMA. His personal website cane be found here.

Not kidding myself into thinking I knew more than I did about environment design, I wanted to start from the beginning and learn from the ground up, and  so signed up for Environment Design 1. The class consists of a 1 – 1 1/2 hour video lecture in which Mr Paick creates a piece of environment concept art, talking the students through the techniques he uses and the thinking behind them. Students are then set a homework assignment to be completed before the week is out. Having submitted the homework, students are invited to a live Q & A session with Mr Paick, in which he critiques each students work and answers any questions for an hour.

Below are my homework assignments for the first three weeks. Week one concentrated on composition and value, with five images to be roughed out for homework. The focus of week two switched to lighting, with three images asked of us, while week 3 was concerned with bringing the standard up with regard to detail and finish. The brief was for one image that had outer space as its theme, with special concern given to scale.

While only three weeks into an eight week course, I am already learning useful techniques as well as a greater understanding of the environment design art from. Mr Paick is an excellent artist and teacher, who has an easy manner and makes for interesting listening, explaining succinctly and communicating with students in a very personable way.

I still find it a struggle to get the piece done in a timely fashion, always getting frustrated in the first half of the creative process until it starts to take shape in the second half. I do feel that I am making progress, however, and I am enjoying the challenge of taking on a facet of concept art that is somewhat foreign to me and pushing myself to meet the briefs in the time alloted.

At the end of this course I hope to discover whether it is my inexperience in the environment design field, and the difficulties that the unfamiliarity that comes with it present, that has put me off it in the past, or that it is simply a case of not finding it appealing to me as an artist.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

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