About the Artwork
Concept Design & 3D Modelling
It’s important that each weapon has a distinct visual look and shape. This helps the player identify the weapon they want without the need to read titles or labels. With that in mind the first step in the creative concept process is building a list of weapons types for Final Vanguard. That list includes basic notes such as “this one will have three arm things”, or “this one will feature a red colour scheme”.
With my list complete I move to drawing manny different and random silhouettes of simple shapes. I’ll typically do this set using a Wacom tablet with Photoshop. This step is a quick exercise to create interesting patterns and iterate quickly until a pleasing silhouette sparks an idea. From there I’ll add in basic highlights and shadow to flesh out the design into a rough sketch. I typically don’t spend too much time refining at this stage as the idea is to be quick and get a basic design together.
I much prefer figuring out the details in the modelling stage. I model in Blender using a technique called hard surface modelling. This is a method of using basic primitive shapes such as cubes and cylinders to create the overall structure. Details are created by adding on to those shapes or cutting away sections. It’s an iterative and experimental process which develops detail over time. Once I’m happy with the final shape I do a final detailing pass where fine features such as nuts and bolts are added. I find this last step is especially important and introduces a needed layer of realism to the model.
While these are purely fictional sci-fi weapons designed for a video game, I try to keep an eye on how they would work in real life. Some of the questions I ask while designing include “where is the ammunition stored” or “does the weapon produce a lot of heat exhaust and how would that be mitigated”. A certain level of plausibility can be added to the artwork by creating solutions to these questions.
Adding colour through the texturing process is the next step but I have a confession to make. I generally dislike UV mapping which is a lengthy process of creating seams into the model so it can be flattened out. Imagine taking a cube and cutting along its edges until it can lay flat like a piece of paper. This step allows for a flat image based texture to wrap around a 3D model giving it texture and colour.
On a complex model this can be quite time consuming requiring at lot of back and forth tweaking. While unavoidable in many situation I ended up using a time saving technique in this case. Rather than UV mapping, the model is broken up into multiple separate sections. Each model consists of many parts which can each be given their own material and colour. The result is a coloured model requiring only a few time consuming UV maps for extra detail. During the rendering process light and shadow from the modelled 3D sections take care of the remaining detail.
Once the model is textured and rendered the final step is opening the image into Photoshop. Here I’ll complete a few final post production tweaks. Often this will include weathering or adding in a scratch or chip here and there. Sometimes I’ll go a little further and for the Pulse Laser both hoses coming off the bottom were textured completely in Photoshop (shhh, don’t tell anyone).
These 5 primary weapons will appear in Final Vanguards main menu. If you would like to be alerted to future blog posts where I discuss secondary and perk weapons, be sure to sign-up below. Thank you!
* Final Vanguard is a work in progress and this artwork might change slightly prior to launch.