Saturday, 22 December 2012

Research moodboards

They're a day late but i fell asleep yesterday before i could upload them, this is the rest of my animals and creatures research for my characters, i only have 2 more areas to research but i'm going to leave them for now and focus on some observational drawing and get on with my designs. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012


Here are some of my mood boards i did for research, i still have a few area's to cover but they should be up tomorrow followed by some observational sketching, i'd like to do that in my sketchbook but i have no working scanner at the moment. I'm researching these things to help inform my character designs, they're not done for no reason, you would think i wouldn't have to research humans but League of legends is infamous for only doing white characters so if the characters suit being of a certain race i will try to mix it up, i myself am really only used to doing white characters, i struggle with painting enough never mind painting skin that isn't my own colour. 


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Artist Research

I have researched 4 artists, these are the ones i knew i was going to research and are in my project plan, they were chosen to help me reinforce certain areas of my project. 

The first is Paul Woo Hyun Kwon, one of the concept designers at Riot games.

These are some thumbnail design sketches of a recently released character on League of Legends called Syndra, the theme of this character has already been clearly defined as a gravity mage. These are therefore design sketches rather than purely exploratory thumbnails, these narrow down the design to develop the final character. I will being doing both of these to reach some of my character designs, i have already done some exploratory thumbnails that i posted earlier, i will soon post my selections and development thumbnails.

This is a design sheet of another recent character fro League of Legends, this is the kind of thing i will be producing for my final work, a sheets showing the character, front and back, close ups on details like the head and what ever else may need detailing on the character.

This is a weapon design for a character in league of legends, it is called the mercury hammer and can transform from a hammer to a cannon, if any characters have a weapon i will need to do something like this to show off the weapon in detail, especially if they have functionality like this.

Although this is not artwork done by Paul Kwon he did upload it to his deviant art account, this is a gameplay storyboard that Riot create when they are a releasing a new champion, this allows them to show off some of the characters gameplay through imagery. Something akin to this will be the outcome for my character ability sets though mine will obviously be artwork instead of in game screen shots.

The second artist i looked at was Jason Chan, he is a very talented artist and designer who works at Massive Black the free lance art studio, Jason has done artwork for many games, movies and other media.

This is an image of some of Jason's quick designs, i chose to look at Jason's work because he has great design talent able to infuse characters with the much needed character and story required to make them stand out.

This is a piece of art showing the character Morrigan from the game Dragon Age Origins, i always liked her design but it was unfortunately not translated well into the game. 

This is a take on a character called Nova that was designed for an unreleased Starcraft game, it's more his style than anything in this piece that i like, my MOBA game is set in a mixture of themes framed in a sci-fi world so designs like this are intriguing to me.

This is artwork for a Magic the Gathering game, this kind of steam punk fire mage would be at home in any MOBA game, and in fact is, most of the MOBA games i know of have some kind of fire mage, although i like the style design and such i am well aware of steering clear of bastardizing characters i like into my own versions of them. 

The last artist i looked at is Dan Luvisi, he created a fantastic graphic novel called Last Man Standing, i bought it myself, if i had access to a larger scanner right now i would have scanned the pages right out of the book to better show why i decided to look at this artist and his graphic novel. 

This is the kind of work Dan Luvisi does, high quality rendered illustration and designs, although this particular character does not feature in his book i wanted to show it because i feel that a lot of his designs relate to how my games setting and narrative has formed, this character is like one of the thumbnails i developed
My design is obviously less interesting but it is just a thumbnail.

This is a character from Last Man Standing, Doyle is a rebel assassin, Dan Luvisi has created a futuristic world of of his own design in his book, right down to the rectangular cigarettes. His book exists in a futuristic world filled with robots, gods, tribes family's of assassins and escaped clones. There are even some hybrids and werewolves, this kind of mixed world is the sort of vibe i would like to get across in my MOBA game design through these characters and the worlds in which they come from, the world they now reside in and the arena they are forced to fight in.

This is Hex, the god of sorts in the world of  Last Man Standing. The book is told in a unique way, it's called a "killbook of a bounty hunter" meaning the whole thing is like a scrap book or a profile book of all of the protagonists potential allies and enemies. Each character in the book has their own artwork to show what they look like, often done in the style of photographs captured via "intelligence". I really like this method and am considering using a kind of framing device like it as my game is based around character being pulled from their respective homes like picking a roster out of a line up.

This is Noa, an ex-girlfriend of the books protagonist and a New York police officer, although the world is clearly grounded in reality after such craziness that features in it, characters like this help show that the world is still a world and has a functioning society and not just bounty hunters running around everywhere. I would like to try and have this kind of effect in my game, all the characters cohabitate on this new world so i would like to show of this depth in character both through the lore pages and in the character designs, to show that they are people living in a functional world regardless of how alien it may be.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Project update

So I've had some changes to my project, as I've gone on i have been looking at various tutorials, walkthroughs and such and my environment art was not progressing, i can watch people do the art but i can't gain the understanding through that method, thus my work and skill was not progressing fast enough to get anything worth while out of it at the end, the work I've done so far on environments has helped me establish the theme of this MOBA game which is still vital to the project progression but my intended outcomes are now slightly different to reflect how the project has progressed. Now instead of producing 4 environment pieces i will be designing 6 neutral monster types. Neutral monster in MOBA games are objectives that fight back, instead of just capturing points you have to kill monsters in order to gain the benefits, this allows for more strategic and involved play.

These are the neutral monsters from league of legends, they range in risk and reward, the wraith, wolf, golem and lizard are the smaller monster that give health regeneration buffs, mana buffs and damage over time buffs.  The dragon is more difficult to kill and takes most of the team early in the game, later in the game most players can kill it by themselves. Dragon grants money to every player on the team that kills it which can be a deciding factor when one team has more total gold to get better items. Barron Nashor, the large worm monster is the larger boss monster witch is very large and hard to kill even with all of the team present.
I now have a lot of work to do to make up for the time lost with the environment art.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Character thumbs 2

I did some more character silhouettes after i enjoyed doing the other ones so much, these took less time, there is one less of them but still. I will analyse them in more depth wen i get round to developing them but i am liking the look of 2,6 and 8.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Character thumbs

So earlier in the week we had a guest lecturer, Shaun Mooney, a concept artist, he talked through his work, experiences and processes and then did a workshop showing his process from silhouettes to finished concept, this was mostly with guns but also did a quick character. I decided to do the same, though this is later in the week and I've kind of forgotten what his process was after drawing the silhouettes. Regardless I was in the mood to do some character work as I've gotten bored of doing environments and needed a change or I’ll just be dragging myself through work I don't want to do and just half arsing it. So here are some character thumbnails that I will be able to use for the character portion of my project.

These took me a surprisingly long time to do, longer than they should have but I enjoyed doing them and I think they came out well. When I get round to focusing on my characters which I think I might change up so that I’m mixing in stuff I like doing with stuff I don't so neither gets stale, I will do more of these and eventually pick the ones I like to develop. I also did a gun but only got part way through it and then forgot how to finish it.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Environments update

So I've been continuing my environment work and have gone in a new direction, I've been trying to paint for a while now and i'm pretty much coming to the end of what i can do in the time i have. I cannot paint, that is a fact, i do not have the skill for it and it was stupid of me to try and include it in my honour project of all places. I have instead been looking into other alternatives, frankly i like working with line art, it's what i'm good at and it's what i enjoy, it is time consuming but it at least gets me somewhere, I've been looking at environmental artists for weeks now and have gotten nowhere so i'm moving on. One other method i found was to mock up the scene in a 3d program, the person i looked at used Google sketch up but i don't like that, the interface is terrible so i'm using 3ds max. My plan is to do some light sketching to get out some rough ideas of what this arena is going to look like and then model it as best i can so that i can work over renders with accurate perspectives and lighting.

So far i have drawn this.

It's a mixture of natural and mechanical, the way i wanted it, i tired to mix in some architectural elements too but it's kinda hard from this angle and it's only a rough sketch. I started modeling the arena and the mountains around the edge of the arena. I found mountains and terrain are hard to block model, i instead went into mudbox and tried to sculpt the terrain from a plane, this was the result.

The terrain itself seemd to work out ok but i have no idea what happened with all those patches when i imported it into 3ds max. In order to get the right shape i had to use subdivision which vastly increases the poly count and in 3ds max there were just far too many polys and vertices to actually see anything which would make placing things kind of hard. I either need to find a way to use less subdivision or just try and complete the block model 3ds max version.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Trying some artwork

Now that i have my arena map created i attempted to do some environmental artwork. I don't really know how to do environmental artwork though, I've never been able to do it and i can't really paint to save my life.

I've watched a bunch of videos of people doing environmental artwork and some other videos of techniques and tried to apply them to artwork.

I watch a lot of Feng Zhu's tutorial videos.

I also watched this video of one of my favourite artists, Luke Mancini. He currently works for Blizzard.

This is one of his images that recently caught my eye, it's very simple and predominantly uses a simple square brush. It has great composition but uses very simple and subtle shapes.

I tried to do use a similar technique and it really didn't work. I really don't like painting and even less without line art, line art is my bread and butter, it's what i like doing and it's what i'm good at. This piece is all around bad, the composition is bad, the perspective is bad. I need to find a better way of working that i'm comfortable with. I have also done a sketchy environment piece.

But this one isn't much better. I think i need to look are more basic tutorials, find out the rules and guidelines to doing environmental art. Without understanding i'm just not going to be able to grasp this, i don't have long to do these environment pieces either.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Urban/Manmade Environment Research

Garbage City

This is Garbage city, near Cairo in Egypt. Garbage city is an extremely large collection of low grade buildings without any real info structure, the people there have no way of disposing of their garbage so the city just piles up. The citizens of the city have made their own jobs out of the mess, they sift through the piles of garbage to find anything they can repair, reuse or sell.
This scene reminds me of the chase scene in The Incredible Hulk movie, running across buildings to flee the pursuing agents. This is a wild idea that I don’t see panning out but in my mind I thought of having the map as rooftops and what would usually be walls in a regular MOBA map would be gaps in the buildings. These could obviously be jumped over using blink abilities like In other MOBA games.


Beijing city in China, this city is highly industrialised city with some truly interesting building design. One that caught my eye was the Sofitel Wanda hotel which looks like it’s ripped right out of a sci-fi movie city. For my arena theme these kinds of futuristic looking structures will fit right in.

New York

New York City, the well-known sky scraper skyline has been used as a jumping off point for many science fiction cities. The high-rise buildings a mixture of both old and new, neon lights and signs at night all add to the overwhelming sight. I know of two examples of New York itself being updated in media to be futuristic versions of its current self. The movie the Fifth Element and Doctor Who both have their own iterations of the city. I will research them both in my next stage of research.

Castle Cities

This is the Castle city from the Disney movie Tangled, the modern remake of Rapunzel. I looked into a bunch of real world castles and didn’t find the kind of thing I was looking for. After this I decided to look into fictional castles, this was the best image I could get of the castle. This castle city is built up an island hill and the city itself kind of winds up and around the hill up to the castle. I think that the castle cities won’t feature too prominently in the arena design but may come into some of the later work for character lore.

This is Kings Landing from the Game of Thrones TV show. Another fictional walled castle city, this city is well designed to withstand sieges. Looking at the layout of the city in this image I think the castles may work as the bases at each end the map.

This is the White City from Lord of the Rings, a highly built up city in the side of a mountain face. It has a very imposing look, I think this too will be more of a character lore related reference.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

MOBA map

I spent a large portion of today getting my map mock up for my game created. I need to start my environment sketches now so i needed to have a sort of lay of the land down so that i know what i'm drawing, the map is pretty basic and just used to show the layout of everything, i will need to do some preliminary sketches to decide how the map will look visually. some details i have already decided. I want the map to be on a gradient going from top to bottom lane down the river, it will go from a kind of mountainous area at the top will a river/stream running down. Once it reaches the mid and bot part of the map  it will become more marsh like and becomes mud. I had the idea to have the mud as an environmental hazard and slow the players but i don't think i really need to get into that much depth with it.

I started out on some square grid paper i had, one i had half of the map mocked up i too a photograph of it with my phone, i would have scanned it but my printer has gone the way of every other printer I've ever had and broken.

I only created half of the map as they are always mirrored to create an even playing field for both teams.
I then went over it and created it again in Photoshop with more detail.

The map is fairly similar to the League of Legends map and uses a lot of the same gameplay features. The standard lanes, bases, river and towers are all the same. I have changed the jungle layout and added some of my own features such as bridges across the river and both ends to provide some interesting structural elements and what could potentially be interesting gameplay features.

I also did one with a key and some annotations.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Project Mind map

Okay so i've gotten a bit behind and i've still got some research to do but if i keep going at the rate i'm going at the moment and keep forgetting things which is a bit scary (should totally get myself checked), then i'm just going to keep getting further and further behind and i'm not the fastest worker anyway and i'm slower when i'm doing something i don't like i.e. research and slower still when i'm down in the dumps. Therefore i'm just going to jump ahead and kick off this week as it should be according to the schedule and catch up with my research when i have time and or when my work calls for some research  on the subject i'm working on, whether that be character design ideas for a character inspired by some form of animal or maybe by some historical period.

So according to my schedule i should now be brainstorming and sketching game ideas so here is my first mind map of ideas i've had about what my MOBA game could be. Some of them i have talked about previously when talking about my research. I have decided and decided quite early on that i didn't really want to restrict myself to designing a game based on one theme, what would be the point of me doing all this research and not having at least most of it influence design in some way. 

Melikhov, L. (2012). Smite Beta Preview: The new contender in the DotA genre. Retrieved from
SMITE, a MOBA game still in the public beta stage is a game themed around gods and deities, i feel that due to this it has a poor art style and really kind of lacks it's own identity.

The ideas i've been favouring have been to do with mixing in multiple areas, i also like the ideas to make the map an incline of different areas and the rooftops idea, though these will need some sketching and design though put into them before i can either take them forward or drop them as they are both gameplay related. Although have said i don't intend to fully develop this game and it's mechanics i still feel compelled to create something i see as functional and well designed.

My favourite idea at the moment is to have some kind of world that is inhabited by all sorts of characters from monsters to men to entities and everything in between. They would all be character moved to this world by some kind of being that has drawn then together from their own worlds, times and dimensions. These champions would then be pit against each other in a specially crafted arena on the planets moon. This idea would allow me to utilize lots of themes and craft my own unique characters.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Natural environments

Volcanic Environments

This is Mount Saint Helens, this is where the massive eruption took place. The mountain is now missing its peak leaving a large crater; this large crater is what interested me. The inside of volcanoes is always intriguing as it hold much danger or at least the mark of destruction.

This is Mount Etna a live volcano that has exposed magma chambers. As Etna spews out more molten rock the mountain itself actually grows. This environment gave me the idea of gameplay hazards.

Mount Semeru is a highly active volcano on the island of Java, the volcano spews out massive ash clouds frequently and produces a view not unlike many fantasy depictions.

Aquatic Environments

The great barriers reef is a well-known tourist attraction. It is a remarkably colourful and wonderful environment that many people flock so see. The amount of variety in life in this singular area is astounding. The bright colours and unique formations of the Great Barrier Reef is what drew me to it. Although I don’t see my MOBA game being exclusively underwater most other MOBA games do have a river of some kind separating the two sides of the map. I could possibly do a variety of environments in the one map.

This is the wreckage of the Titanic, though the same point applies here that I don’t see the map being set underwater, wreckages though are very interesting and garner much mystery and intrigue. If possible a wreck would be an interesting aspect of the map.

Underground/Cave Environments

These are the Ellora caves, they are a series of rooms and caves carved directly into a rock face. The issue with caves is that they are an enclosed area with a roof; if the MOBA has an isometric view I see this being a potential problem. Although this game isn’t intended to be made if would still be a poor design decision to not keep that in mind. 

The cave of Hurcules, this cave is a much more enclosed cave system, it is also partially submerged. The interesting formations and paths in this cave gave me the idea of maybe having a tiered environment; possibly some kind of stone bridge that leads over the divide between the two sides of the map. Whether or not this could cause problems I would have to look into. I do know that Dota 2 has some elevated terrain but I am not sure how this affects gameplay.

Snake mountain cave is a remarkable cave in Thailand, as you can see from the photograph to the right its scale is astounding but what differentiates it from other large caves are the unique shapes made by the dripping limestone rock faces.
The strange rock formation would definitely provide an interesting look to any rock formations used in the arena.

Jungle Environments

This is a jungle scene in New Zealand, most of the MOBA games I have researched have an area in the map called the jungle, although most of the time this is not actually a jungle and more of a forest. There is obviously no rule saying how this area must look though it is most common to have some kind of foliage.

I have toyed with the idea of changing the environment of the arena depening on the area. An example would be having and incline on the map leading from the bottom lane up to the top lane, starting from the bottom it could be some kind of marsh or coastline, then the mid lane area could be a bit more standard and then lead up to the more rocky mountain like top lane.

This is an image of the jungle highlands in Oahu, the very high rock faces would be a perfect way to seclude the arena as the map does need to be contained.

This is a jungle village found in Santa Clara, I looked at this to mix up the jungle environments. I decided to look at some inhabited environments. My issue with this is that the area will be just that, it is supposed to be a place of battle between two teams; a village setting probably won’t be the most appropriate theme.

Arctic Environments

This is a very basic photograph of an arctic environment, most of the arctic is quite baron and featureless. League of Legends had an arctic themed arena for a Christmas period, though the arena didn’t actually change much, it just turned into a frozen forest. I think if there were to be any arctic theme going on in the design it would have to be an element attached to another more substantial theme.

This is an image from a passage near Greenland, this shrouded maze of icy shards looks like the type of place to harbour some mysterious creature. This image makes me feel less like using it to inspire me for the arena design or game theme but more for a character in the game. I don’t really like the idea of having the game restricted to one theme such as having all character related to the jungle, I think variety is always more appealing and I would like to eventually figure out a way to draw from any piece of research in order to create character designs. 

This is a scene from Antarctica, I chose this image for the unusual architecture the glarier had formed into, there is really nothing in this image to argue another point but I found it interesting and thought I was worth saving.