Author Topic: Background Blitz :: Workshop Edition :: Concluded  (Read 51478 times)

oops, i completely missed the "before noon" part! haha. ill hold back a bit with composition! thanks!  ;D
« Last Edit: 16 May 2008, 22:25 by Mordalles »

"It's a fairy! She's naked! Curse these low-res graphics!" - Duty and Beyond

Daniel Thomas

  • "zyndikate"
    • Daniel Thomas worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    • Daniel Thomas worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Sketches for now, some are from reference, some are from imagination. Going to walk out myself and try to get some good nature sketches, having a hard time to get any good from photos.
Still thinking about house design, but I dont think I will settle any until it actually comes down to the composition - but I have some ideas that I want in to the picture.

click for bigger

::UPDATE 19th May::

Purely the house design, I know there is a tendency that all have the same basic shapes (small box on left vs big on right), but this was based on another sketch which I wanted to explore further, next time Ill work on a new design.
The shapes can ofcourse be more interesting with help of other things, like boards, trees growing, and other stuff adding to it - but not a concern right now.


:: UPDATE 28th::

Did two thumbsketches, but since time is little it the background suffers. I think the left can be worked on but the right is not good at all. With photoshop its easy to go in and experiment, but its good to get ideas out without going into details and starting tweaking everything. Where is everybody else?
« Last Edit: 28 May 2008, 20:46 by zyndikate »
Check out The Journey of Iesir Demo | Freelance artist, check out my Portfolio

Updated the phase introduction in the first post, which was very vague:

Added a new small sketch


Could you gather those ref images in a large image, and then post a small version (with a link to a larger)?

Having all images displayed helps creating an overview, and saves people of the trouble of loading them all up seperately.
« Last Edit: 12 Jul 2015, 08:21 by loominous »
Looking for a writer


  • Member of EGA HD Studios
My scheadule for work looks about like this:
Phase I
Conception work, minor modeling. About 5 days.
Phase II
Modeling and texturing. I can't completly seperate thease two phases, because sometimes modes must be adjusted to textures. And if you plan to use bump maps (And I do) you must incluse this in the design precess. Estimated Time about 7 days.
Phase III
Final touch.
Adding details, and compiling entire composition into single image. Also reendering and preparing aditional files just for show off. Time - 6 days.

If you don't mind I would prefer to use this schedule. Time line changes are minor, so I hope that there won't be any problems.

It's also partially because I got rather slow computer (Please, don't ask how slow. It can hurt your mental health.) And it will take some time to reender final image.

And why I haven't included lightning in my scheadule? Because in 95% of outdoor scenes I use two light sources, one omni, one directional. It takes about 5-15 minutes to set them up.


I guess the introduction could've been clearer regarding this, but this particular workshop edition isn't meant to show people's own workflows, but to focus on different artistic aspects, one at a time, enabling us to dwelve deeper into them together. I think you may be thinking more in terms of regular tutorials/lectures.

To allow this several compromises have to be made, such as the schedule drafted. After all, one person may have 10 mins a day, the other 14 hours. You can't accomodate both, so it becomes about finding reasonable durations that will also somewhat fit the length of a normal Blitz.

The phases are compromises as well, as everyone have their own workflows, and since they almost always include overlapping processes.

So I'm very well aware that the phase divisions don't fit people's usual workflow.

As the workshop is about visual aspects, such as composition, and since all these are shared by 3D and 2D, I think the current schedule should work out, perhaps with certain time additions:

Phase I (6 days)

  - Design is design, in 2D as in 3D.

Phase II (7 days)

  - Environmental design is visually the same in 2D as in 3D, this is directly linked to:

  - Element placement and values/lighting, which is visually the same in 2D just as in 3D.

This is composition, even though it's thought of only as merely the placement of elements.

While it may be quick to set up lighting doesn't mean that artistically lighting a scene is quick, it's part of the art of composition. Nudging a lightsource an inch can create vastly different shadows, which affects the composition, etc. Lighting is even easier in 2D, as it allows us to place values exactly where we want to - in short, we can easily cheat.

Phase III (8 days)

  - Colour becomes colour grading, where you add artistic colour treatment. (3D people can try out different solutions at this point, even though modeling remains etc)

  - Refinement - including further developing the environment, and general refinement,

  - 3D specific post work.

How does this sound 3D people out there?
« Last Edit: 17 May 2008, 15:00 by loominous »
Looking for a writer

Chances are, I won't have time to enter this one, but your pacing looks reasonable.

nice sketches, zyndikate. i really like the smurfy/asterix-style of the house. also, the other objects fit into the design. what version of those do you prefer? while i like the top house the most from the technical point of view, the others look more reasonable (more place to host more orphans). looking forward to more.

Daniel Thomas

  • "zyndikate"
    • Daniel Thomas worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    • Daniel Thomas worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Thanks Jens!
I dont like any of them, its just to experiment with the design so I can design the house freely when it actually comes down to composition - I dont see any reason to lock myself to anything yet.
These designs  - asfar as for me - isnt to just be put over to the background - but to broaden my vocalubary and knowing the objects that I _might_ have in the background in some form. I dont know yet what I might _need_ in my picture since its not only about what I _want_ in my picture.

But like I said I like the top one most, but its ofcourse not final, it was just experimenting with all kinds of stuff (like wines growing around and grabbing the house, holding it down).

I see many people post thier reference, but no sketches. The reference isnt really for just copying straight off, but you can learn a great deal of just investigate it by drawing it - understanding what it actually looks like.
How would you else be able to rotate the object if you need it to be rotated in the composition, if you dont know what its actually is your're drawing? When they're in your register you can start the creativity flow and not be bound to reference images - While theyre great to have and inspire you, checking details later on, correction.

The style itself comes by itself when you start drawing freely and not copying straight off.

Dunno how much sense it made, I guess my point is: Start sketching people and show us some cookies :)
Check out The Journey of Iesir Demo | Freelance artist, check out my Portfolio

hey, no, i got the point, it's pretty much what i've experienced by studying - it's getting knowledge of designs and the feeling for a style and then drawing by making use of that feeling and knowledge.

When they're in your register you can start the creativity flow and not be bound to reference images
- the mental register... i like that

update - added 3rd sketch trying to use the register only  ;)
« Last Edit: 18 May 2008, 15:38 by Jens »

Sounds fine to me loominous.
I don't know if I'll have time to finish in time, but I'll try to follow
Should I post the 3d models I've done so far?



  • Member of EGA HD Studios
What do you mean that we can't cheat with shadows?

I would say that cheating with shadows is much simpler in 3D than in 2D.

I'll post some more stuff in a few hours time, with explanations on hardest spots, and a list of things which you shouldn't do.

Should I post the 3d models I've done so far?

Sure, anything that is viewable - that is, perhaps not some insanely cluttered wireframe model that you can't make any sense of - is highly welcome.

Will enable us to get some feedback going.


About references:

As zyndikate has already said, they're mostly about analysis, finding and understanding elements you like, adding them to your mental library so you can then create you own designs.

And, as always, it's really important to try to look past details, and try to understand the basic elements, which are not only the simplest, but the ones that have the most impact on us, even though our eyes tend to focus on details.

Take for instance the Beauty and the Beast House I posted before:

First row:

Going from the left, we have the outline sketch, which even though it's been simplified, is really messy looking. This is about the usual impression we get when we look at an objects, a cluster of details.

Next is the silhouette. Now we're getting a feel for the big impression this object is making on us.

After that is a version where I've added volume to the silhouette. The basic elements of the house are coming through.

Second row:

Here we have a house design that is close to the archetype we seem to have. Apart from the chimney, we have complete symmetry, one of the things to avoid if you want to create interest. We recognize it as a kid drawing, but it's very easy for anyone to fall into this kind of design. I know I do.

Last row:

Here it's been put into perspective. Even with depth, the blandness is great, and the silhouette reveals the unexciting big impression it's making on us.

If you compare it to the top row, you notice the strong assymetry of the top one, horizontally, vertically, and depth wise (if you look at the volume version). This assymetry along with the variations between pointy, broad, and generally diverse shapes helps make the top one interesting, without the need for details. The detais then work as icing on the cake. If you building needs details to look interesting, it's kind of like a dish needing tons of spices to compensate for a bland taste. I've found this true in everything from object design, to character design, to composition, to music. Get the basic elements to look/sound good on their own, and then add details to lift it further.

It may be easy to jump to the conclusion that original version's relative complexity reveals some advanced architectural knowledge, only obtainable through extensive studies, when in fact the building is quite simple. And if you're able to draw the kid house in perspective, you have all the knowledge you need:

So just using the simple shape of the kid's house, we now have the main parts of the structure.

There are still some elements missing however, but we only require a squashed cube to do the work:

So now that we have the basic elements, it becomes a matter of adding stuff like windows and doors.

These things come in a wide variety of designs, which is where references come in.

But again, it's not about copying, but understanding. Take a thing like those log things on the walls that add these quaint details.

They're present because this house was built with an old building technique called timber framing, where a timber frame is first built, and then filled up with whatever material is accessible, from bricks to rubble.

This fact may sound excessive, but if you know this, you start looking at this very common building technique in a different light. You start seeing the contruction behind it all. So when you contruct your own version, you're actually building a house, not just adding arbitrary details from memory.

What do you mean that we can't cheat with shadows?

Where did I say you couldn't?

Edit: Fixed links
« Last Edit: 12 Jul 2015, 08:23 by loominous »
Looking for a writer


Cool to see your progress!

One thing I'm noticing is a symmetrical tendency, and I think the buildings could benefit from some more vertical variation, to make the silhouettes more exciting, this, if you're going for a more interesting look.

But your experimentation looks very promising, so I'm sure you'll end up with a very nice design sooner or later!
Looking for a writer

I finally got around to doing some study sketches but they're not very detailed. I really should've spent more time on them, but I was in a hurry.

All of them from reference, I think.

I picked one of the designs (top left) and I tried to run with it, using the reference with a couple of small changes of my own.

edit 2:
Tried to work up a composition. I wanted a distancey feel to it. I can't figure out how to get both the windmill and the farm in the background without them colliding though.
edit 3:Wasn't satisfied with the first one at all so I tried to fix most of the problems with it. Feedback would be appreciated.
« Last Edit: 30 May 2008, 20:21 by TheJBurger »

Some of my junk:

I've been struggling with this, but think my house will end up something like the one in the upper left corner, with the front changed to something like the one right below. Also, I don't really want the house this huge, so I'll chop off some of the stuff on the left. Since there are details in the window meant to be visible, perhaps a huge house is not such a great idea.

For the farm, I'm thinking something like the tiny one, near the top middle. I want it to be recognizable as a farm, so am going for something more simple here. The bridge I haven't decided. Something that doesn't obscure the view too much, maybe the 2nd one in the top left. Windmill, the one near the middle, right, simple and effective.

I guess I'll test out different versions a bit in the composition stage.

This workshop blitz is great for sure!


At last I had some time to start testing out the composition.

First, this one is a bit screwed, since I sat painting for ages on the wrong layer. I blame my dentist for this (he has made me dependent on heavy painkillers).
Anyways, since I want to draw attention to the window where the girl is gonna be, the idea was to create contrast on the walls (around that spot)  with the tree shadows. Typical, long shadows  - this is early in the day. This should also help showing the forest without filling up large portions of the image with trees. I pushed the shadows too far here, something I realized moments before learning I'd been painting on the wrong layer. Thinking about it, these spots of light could be used to show any important object/exit. I'll try using it for making the path around the building more clear.

So.... the plan is to clean up the mess a bit, as soon as I can find the time.


Ok, another one

This one is far from done, but at least less messy than the previous.


New one:
Changed some bits here and there. Major change is closer and slightly lower camera angle. Worked on some details in the back.

Been trying out some colors.

Might be close to final. Perhaps just toy with the contrast a little.
« Last Edit: 14 Aug 2008, 01:39 by Neil Dnuma »

Daniel Thomas

  • "zyndikate"
    • Daniel Thomas worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    • Daniel Thomas worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
update, Ill try to give some comments tonight when I got some free time.
Check out The Journey of Iesir Demo | Freelance artist, check out my Portfolio


  • To lazy to add an avatar...
Hay Loominous (and the rest of the gang),

I like the idea of a workshop (I think that a character (not sprite) design workshop would be a great idea too)...but since I'm quite busy, and am not really appealed by the subject (the Orphanage) I  choose not to participate in a final background. However...the great thing about a workshop is that I can share ideas without providing the final product. So lend me your ears...and ignore what doesn't appeal to you.

Let's start by apologizing for this immense long post...please be gentle with me.

Under normal conditions, a number of the thoughts described below would be discussed with the group but for the sake of the workshop I'll just pretend that we did. :)

The script doesn't give a clear indication of the season; and this depends largely on the mood (read: contrast) you want to create:
    Spring:    romance, hope, life
    Summer: exotic, warmth, but also the most neutral
    Autumn:  depressed, cold
    Winter:    cold/warmth (cuddle together in front of the fireplace), death/new life
Basically it's all about creating contrast (if you take this scene as a basis of the story, not the story as a basis for this scene). The following are (some of) the contrasts/frictions that you create:
    Spring:     Great if you want to create a contrast between the house and it's surroundings.
                    Hope and life of the world are contrasted by the worn out, poor conditions of the man-made house.
                    This makes living in the house (and thus the life of the girl) more depressing (but with hope).
    Summer:   Relatively neutral, but creates a contrast between the weather/sun and the girl sitting inside.
                    Why is she inside? - Is she ill? - Is she not allowed outside?
    Autumn:    Both the scenery and the house are worn out/depressed (sad). Great for creating
                     contrast with the girl playing on the second floor (happy). This can also be enhanced by adding
                     shadows to the house and scenery, and extra light (possibly sun-rays) to the room where the
                     girl sits.
    Winter:      Contrast between the cold (outside) and warmth (inside).
                     Can be used to make the surrounding depressing while making the house worn out but cosy.
The script (with comments) states that: "The poor conditions contribute to a melancholy atmosphere, one that despite the bleakness contains a tangible sense of hope. - Think 'a flower blossoming in a gloomy swamp'". Late winter or early spring might reflect this best. Although autumn could also work. The 'nearly dried up stream' could indicate (late) summer, nevertheless I think that early autumn or spring will work better.

The script indicates five layers (from front to back):
    1. the bridge with the sign (somewhat readable to the player, readable to the main character)
    2. the yard (with scattered toys)
    3. the house
    4. the background (containing the farm, windmill, and forest).
There are two exits mentioned for this scene:
    1. into the house
    2. behind the house (towards the farm, windmill, forest?)
Logic would dictate that there is a third exit, which would be the bridge; and this would be the general entrance. However, for this workshop I will assume that it was not merely forgotten by loominous; and in stead was part of the story. This implies that the bridge is worn out as well and either broken down, or breaks down when the main character tries to cross it. Consequently, there are two options: either exit 2 is also the real entrance (and we'll have to find it first), or the real entrance has to be created first by 'repairing' the bridge (wasn't there a big sign somewhere? - maybe we can use that to cross the stream?). From the point of the story I prefer the broken bridge that has to be repaired (story-related puzzles Yeah!) - This will also add to the remoteness of the orphanage (no direct road to the city).

Focus is essential for a good composition. So when I read the script (and after the before mentioned thoughts) the two main aspects in the image are:
    1. our objective: the girl in the window
    2. what we have to overcome to get (closer) to the objective (the puzzle): the broken down bridge.
Consequently these two should be on the focal points of our image. Whether to use the golden ratio or rule of thirds or whatever doesn't really matter. Fact is: the first thing you want the eye to wander towards is the windows, the second the bridge (this is easy, since that's where the player's character is). There are a number of 'unimportant' things in the picture that do add to the atmosphere, story, and world, which the player will find when they're emerged into the image, but that are not the focus of our story (swings, toys, the house itself (not counting the window), the forest etc). There are also a number of things that are actually important for the player to see (but less important than the two main focal points): the two exits, the flower representing hope, the farm, the mill, and the sign.

I've added a rough sketch composed (mostly) of images posted by all of you, to show my interpretation of the script. In the end I decided to go for a more autumn-look. I didn't add any toys to the (small) yard (too much stuff, too little space), and I should probably have added some trees in the back and to the right (what's a forest without trees?). But overall I think it gives an adequate indication of (where I would go with) composition and focus.

[click to enlarge]

I hope someone finds these bablings useful :)



Interesting analysis there! I had only a vague idea about how I'd utilize the kind of contrast you mention, so that was very clarifying. Shame you couldn't participate.

Unfortunately you gave me too much credit when it came to the accuracy of the script, as I had simply forgotten about the bridge being an exit. But the broken bridge part still serves as a nice hypothetical analysis in any case.

I think that a character (not sprite) design workshop would be a great idea too

I was thinking the same thing. I suspect that I have enormous gaps when it comes to deeper analysis regarding character design, so I'd be happy to participate if you'd host one.


JBurger, Neil:

Good to see you join in!


I guess part one is due to end approximately by now, but I'm extending it two days, since many joined in late. We'll see whether there's need for additional time after that. Just give a shout if you feel short on time.

So, the new preliminary end of phase one is may 21nd 23:59 GMT.

So there's still time to join in!

Edit: fixed date mixup
« Last Edit: 20 May 2008, 02:06 by loominous »
Looking for a writer

the design of the houses of everyone are very great.
Too bad I didn't make the house with towers and diferent shapes :( now don't have time to change.