ARTBLOG 5: Conveyance and Process

Hey everyone! Excitement ramps as we feverishly work towards PAX and Kickstarter/Greenlight! In games, certain things need to speak for themselves. It would hardly make sense if a game had every element of their level labeled. Things need to be obvious, and it’s the Artist’s job to bring those elements to life. If there’s a hazard, the player needs to know it’s a hazard. The go to is spikes, but I prefer to theme my hazards to their environments. For caves, jagged rocks make sense, but crystals allowed me that same luxury while also letting me introduce a new color to the palette.  They also let me make the spikes brighter and easier to see.  Here was my first take:


The first pass was a bit of a wash. The crystals are just manipulated versions of the lava rocks. They were spiky, but the cluster makes them almost look like a jagged floor. They didn’t read well. I have to speak with the visual language, and this piece is poorly communicated.

So I made a process! In my work are endless processes. If I develop a process, and stick to strict rules, it allows me to establish a visual style. This is the first long-term project I’ve ever embarked on, and visual consistency is important! So I’ve been honing certain processes for things, and now I have one for crystals!


It starts with a shape. Most of this is done with the polygonal lasso tool. Crystals are rigid and edged. Curves would not suit them, so I made a rule. RULE1: The Brush Tool is not to be used to fill the faces. Only use the polygonal lasso tool.


The next goal was to establish basic shapes, and let the others fall into place within them. Start broad and get more specific throughout. If you try to start from say, top to bottom the full image will have problems you didn’t expect. When I establish a “Step” in my process, I perform that step on the entire shape before moving on to the next.


We’re getting more specific now. I’ve also set another rule. I have picked two values and have chosen not to go brighter or darker than those two. It helps to keep your contrast under control. Sometimes less is more!


This is where things really start to pop! The reason we keep our contrast down is so we can be very selective about our lightest lights. On crystals they should be the edges.


And there you have it! With this system, I can make lots of crystalline structures (like the ones below). See you next week!