Developing a Studio Based Visual Mnemonic for Games Design Students – 001a – Creating the Visuals


One of the primary concerns that I had and that inspired my original line of exploration on my Masters Study, was augmenting the students understanding of those concepts that seem irrelevant to the student by comparison to the tick-boxes (real or mythologised) that get them marks whilst on a degree (or any extended course of study).

The following list covers some of the potential ideas I had for subjects:

  1. CaTs (Critical & Theoretical Studys) and the Studio, a relationship.
  2. The Wider Games Design Pipeline (a map of the jobs and roles in the industry, showing elements covered on the course).
  3. A Visual Representation of three years study for Students.
  4. Exploring Myths of Higher Education (“Will I be marked down for… ?”, “Surely coming in everyday is enough?” etc)
  5. The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Developing Values Judgements in Students.
  6. Planning a Project.
  7. Creativity – a Visual Guide.
  8. Drawing  – a visual Guide.

Item 2 on the list being my original idea (and still a work in progress), items 4 and 5 are still at sketch stage, while 6, 7 through 8 are complete, or almost complete at the time of this post (item 8 can be found HERE, tested and currently being tweaked).

Finally, item 3, having gone through several incarnations, became the focus of a concerted effort to produce a test visual for the studio and even incorporating a little from item 1.

Of all the work produced over the three years THIS possibly bears the closest resemblance to my previous work and my original intentions for my study; the reliance on representational (if at times also symbolic) drawing as an underpinning factor in the visual, as well as its format being print based (a poster, if you will).

It will be interesting to see results based upon the reaction of students (and educators) beyond those who have seen the early tests and development.

So, how did I go about creating the graphic itself.

Well, as always it starts with the sketch and the thumbnails (embryonic versions of which you can find HERE).

SketchesClick to Enlarge.

The sketchbook is where all the thinking happens, the rapid prototyping if you will. This is where ideas and visuals are tested for myself and where the planning of space, layout and meaning happens. Not all the sketches are front loaded, many sketches and thumbnails are produced throughout the entire creative process, right up until the end; but there is not a project that I work on that doesn’t ultimately begin without the sketchbook being opened.

The final visuals are all produced in pencil and ink at roughly A3 with some elements being drawn separately and added in in Photoshop following completion of the primary drawing,

Inks Year 02 smallFor explanations relating to the imagery in the visualisations above see the following blog post.

…all that is based on quite simple thumbnails (as seen three images above), or in some cases further developed pencil mock ups (below top).

Mock ups and Sketches

…or more elaborate mock ups (above – bottom – here using Sketchup to get a quick feel for the possible perspective to be used – the final visuals however are drawn from scratch, with no tracing from the above digital mock-ups).

First up then, setting up the perspective.

Setting up the Perspective

I could use perspective guides here (many examples can be found online), or simply trace off the mock-ups I did in Sketchup, but drawing your own allows you to cheat the viewers eye at times or to add forced perspective points that can draw the viewers eye through the image or pull the viewer into the image (having low images seen from above while mid-ground images seen from the front etc.).

Besides, along with observational drawing, drawing in perspective is gym work for the illustrator; it’s good for you. The version you can see me working up above didn’t work. I knew that only when I was so far in, I suppose I could have negated some of that with a more elaborate thumbnail, but in this case it was simply letting the perspective grids get the better of me.

So, I started again. With the first of the perspective lines in place then comes the placement of primary items,

Tool Box in Perspective

…then adding fixed ink lines, this allows more complex work to commence without too many confusing perspective pencilled guides beneath the newer items as these can now start to be erased.

The inks are created using a very fine fine liner pen (I use relatively utilitarian water and fade proof FINE LINE pens from uniPIN) in this case a 0.2 nib.

To give an added sense of 3D I use (for want of a better name) a thin line/thick line technique which I teach my students that Product Designers sometimes use (see an example HERE from my Drawing Basics Post).

You can see here that any line that denotes the horizon of a plane or surface (i.e. that which you cannot see the adjoining plane or continued surface form) is given a thick line, those joins that are internal or points where planes meet and you can see both surfaces,the line remains thin. This technique makes the drawing of the object “pop” off the page a little, while fixing adjoining planes together.

Adding more inks

Finally, we finish up the inks.

Inks 001 small

Scan, and do any final edits and add-ins, and then begin colouring.

Colours Partial

Here I started on a half tone ground that allows the whites and highlights to look that much stronger.

The Creative Tool Kit Yr 1 xxClick to Enlarge [work in progress]

With the first parts of the design almost complete I then begin testing the final layout using the sketches and works in progress alongside each other to get an overall feel.

Games - All Three Years - SmallClick to Enlarge [work in progress]

…and adding any subsequent graphics and text into the final design.

This stage is moving a long quite rapidly now. The Yr2 section is almost complete (barring added details),

Early Yr2 Set up

…from this (above) to this (below).

The Creative Tool Kit Yr 2 - smallClick to Enlarge [work in progress]

…and Yr3 is perspective grid-ed, pencilled and awaiting inks.

Yr3 Sketch

The next blog post will outline some of the visual language, semiotic references and symbolism employed in the above images.

~ by hesir on July 23, 2013.

2 Responses to “Developing a Studio Based Visual Mnemonic for Games Design Students – 001a – Creating the Visuals”

  1. […] Anyway, the whole thing has a different feel to my usual work, and has definitely been influenced by my work on my MA, especially the most recent Board Game related imagery. […]

  2. […] a practical sense I have been attempting to counter these issues through the development of holistic “Visual Gateways” (Fig 5) through which students might access an understanding of the integral connection between, […]

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