Saturday, August 27, 2011

Visual Development: MMA UK Gym

A friend asked me the other day about the visual development process, so I thought I'd post the process for this gym from the work I did for EA SPORTS MMA.

First, I met with the Art Director for the title, Peyton Duncan. We talked about the direction he's looking for and agreed on this very typical process:

1. Reference gathering. This is an important step that is often overlooked. I submitted images I gathered off the internet for things I thought could be cool, and the Art Director sifted out what he wanted and didn't want.

2. Thumbnail sketches aimed at capturing the fighting style and country of origin. Originally these were going to be black and white, but I ended up adding simple color splashes in to help convey the textures more.

3. Feedback on the thumbnails was given to me by Peyton, and then I did a larger color sketch of the gym. Most of these were just one shot, but the UK gym needed a bit more description. Peyton wanted to go with something that felt like a repurposed pub, warmly lit, older structure and somewhere in the middle of the UK urban jungle.

4. An environment modeler took my sketch and modeled the gym in Maya, solving and fulfilling layout solutions according to the needs of the game.

5. I set up a few wide-angle shots in Maya and rendered them out for the Art Director to choose from. Each gym needed at least 2 shots to show the whole floorplan, and the UK gym had a loft that also needed description. I then rendered the chosen shots in Maya using flat shading and painted over them in Photoshop. One of the useful things from using this process is being able to render objects separately, which saves me the time it would take to cut them out of a single image in Photoshop. Also, I can use an Ambient Occlusion render to quickly put some values in.

The paintings were used as a visual target sent to outsourcers to finish the in-game environment artwork, as well as visual targets for the lighting department. The bottom strip of color swatches is the color script from this gym, which describes the color for the final look of this area of the game.

Remind me to get some in-game screen captures of this gym for comparison of the final. I am my biggest art critic, but please feel free to comment if you found this process description helpful at all!