Graphic Design development for use in Entertainment Media (Games & Animation)

This session with Yr 1 Games and Animation Degree students revolved around discussions relating to a specific “hat” you may have to wear as a production designer/art director when designing games, animation or other entertainment media products.
Specific briefs could be set for Students using the linked material/structure HERE.

i.e, Graphic Design.

There is clearly much more to the history and ongoing practice of graphic design than can be covered in a very surface and simple aesthetics oriented session such as this.

This session simply works as a reminder that when creating virtual worlds (especially one which hopes to convey a sense of independent reality), to suspend the disbelief of the audience effectively, you must be able to conceive that more than one intelligence is at work in that world.

In the “real world” a multitude of designers are imposing their own individual aesthetic choices upon the spaces we move through on a daily basis.

Take a look at the flowchart below… All these elements in “reality” would not be designed by the same person, not even the same studio.

Design for Ent Media Graphics - Gliffy(Flowchart designed using the flowchart maker Gliffy)

You need to imagine the same is true of your persistent virtual world when imposing your aesthetic wishes as acting art director (unless it is a conscious, purposeful aesthetic decision).

One such manifestation of this “real world” combinatorial aesthetic can be seen below.

It only takes a quick walk down a busy street to find evidence not only of graphics by different graphics designers in the street (ones with a wide range of experience, and aesthetic agendas) but evidence of graphics of different periods existing side-by-side, and more importantly graphics and design work of very different quality existing side-by-side too.

It is also not uncommon to see graphics in the street that sit side-by-side, clearly developed by different individuals, one of whom might not be (be their own admission or not) a practiced graphic designer or creative.

--- Homestead…sometimes they are clearly not.

…and if it happens in reality, it can happen in your game/animation environment.

Without even making overly judgmental statements about the sign-writing and design/typographic design of either establishment in the above photo, it is clear that one of these shops had their sign made by professional sign makers, and the other thought they would “have a go” themselves.

This appearance of imagery, typography and graphic design of differing quality and professional production values is a constant in the contemporary street.


Lets face it, several areas of the art direction of your games and animations will rely on your ability to produce believable graphics and graphic design imagery…(especially those with a setting that reflects any period from a hundred years ago and looking way into the future – brand awareness is on the increase) .

And though there is clearly more to understanding Graphic Design than simply understanding the order it happened/developed in a little understanding of the chronology of Graphic Design Aesthetics can help when creating environments and Logos that are based in or trying to identify with an aesthetic associated with a particular period.

This will not only be useful for your development of the HUD’s & GUI‘s for your games, but all other diegetic graphical elements within Animation, Games and other forms of Entertainment Media.

I was lucky. I was exposed to the various uses and application of type and typography as part of the wider design world very early. My high school work experience saw me placed at a sign company which mixed screen printed signage and hand lettered type (as done on the sides of wagons). Later, as I worked at an archeology unit that produced brochures, booklets and other printed learning materials as part of their remit, I learned about photographic reproduction, producing bromides of type, and producing display panels/artwork using Letraset. I had the experience of using and experimenting with lead typesetting as part of my design education (Btec level), prior to my exposure to digital type and the world of computer design. I also went on to work with a great sign-writer back in my Theme Park design days, all valuable experience as a designer despite never really becoming a typographer or Graphic Designer in the truest sense…

This experience is often missing with students who are digital natives and for whom accessing perfect and endless arrays of type, both good and bad, at the click of a mouse is something they’ve grown up with.

Illustrator/Designer Alisdair Wood* (artist at the Edinburgh based Rockstar North), commented on the discussion above as it was posted to Twitter:

Alisdair Wood on Lettering and Graphics in Games

*Check out Alisdair’s recent comics outing Beagle (issue #1) and check out some of his great work.

Abridged Timeline (Work In Progress)

Below is an abridged timeline of Graphic Design History, with a focus on resolving use in Entertainment Media Products (i.e. Animation and Comics, Games, TV & Film, Themepark and Visitor Attraction design etc).

15,000 – 10,000 BCE (before Common Era)
Some of the earliest graphic representations and communications through graphic means are made by early man in the Lascaux caves in southern France.

Practical semiotics clearly at work here, though obviously not coined as a term for some eleven and a half thousand years (meaning the study of signs as we now know it, as opposed to the earlier Greek mediacal idea of natural signs as diagnostic tools) by John Locke (not the one from Lost) in his conclusion to his book Essay concerning Humane Understanding published in 1690; Charles Sanders Peirce wouldn’t discuss his own theory of signs until even later in 1902…

3600 BCE
The Blau Monuments, from Mesopotamia (home of the tower of Babel), some of the earliest artifacts that combine written words and image to communicate, collaboratively, the same idea.

It is worth noting that Papyrus was obviously in use around this period… and though it was cheap to manufacture (it was used for mats, boats, mattresses and other coverings) its was susceptible to damage from both the elements, damp and water, and cracking and folding due to its manufacture process.

Parchment made from animal skins became a much more efficient method of recording information, transporting, coding and storing documents.

105 CE (Common Era)
Chinese government official Ts’ai Lun credited with inventing paper[1] [2]

1045 CE
Pi Sheng is credited with the invention of movable type, allowing for individual characters to be placed and replaced in a frame and then reset for printing different messages easily… thus allowing the mass (not on the scale we understand today of course) production of communication media; oh… and paper money.

…then …two thousand, two hundred years later.

Printing arrives in Europe with a paper mill in Fabriano, Italy.

Johann Gensfleisch zum Gutenburg credited with perfecting the system for printing type in books.

His Gutenberg Bible was not his first publication using his moveble type and press, but is certainly one of his most important legacies.

The main type was printed using the movable type method, the illuminations and some other type elements where added later by hand prior to binding.

Albrecht Pfister the first to add illustrations as we know them today (i.e. not illuminated marginalia) to a printed book.

Nicolas Jenson, considered one of history’s greatest typeface designers, sets news standard for Roman type.

Claude Garamont (later known as Garamond) opens first type foundry, developing and selling fonts to printers.

Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century design, in books and Posters, Scrolls and Type & Images.

First Caslon Old Style font developed, later used for the printing of the Declaration of Independence.

Industrial Revolution begins, setting the stage for advances in graphic design production.

Author Aloys Senefelder develops lithography.

Lord Stanhope invents first printing press made of all cast-iron parts, requiring 1/10 the manual labor and doubling the possible paper size.

First sans-serif font makes a subtle entrance as one line of a book.

Williams Morris, who became a highly influential figure in design history, sets up art-decorating firm.

Development of halftone screen allows for first photo printed with a full range of tones.

Art Nouveau movement begins and changes design, making its way into all types of commercial design and utilizing all types of arts. Poster by Alphonce Mucha, from 1903.

That said, many posters still where produced by people who clearly hadn’t taken those design principles on board, or by people who the new style had not yet reached… USA, Poster 1897 – Animated Picture Machine

James Montgomery Flagg designs famous “I Want YOU for the U.S. Army” poster. The poster, a self-portrait, was actually an American version of a British poster by Alfred Leete.

The Bauhaus, a school of design eminating from Germany, is founded, providing the revolutionary framework and aesthetic break from the past that would lead us into modern design.

Thats said, the 30’s through the 40’s saw Art Deco begin to take hold as an Aesthetic, its association with American cinema and entertainment would be a lasting oneCassandre develops his unique style of poster art using the aesthetics of the Art Deco movement to create imagery that would be associated with travel right to this day.

50’s Rock n Roll imagery, Posters and Cinema Graphics. [1]

The 60’s and Psychedelia… and hippy/drug culture/art nouveau influenced art.  Hendrix Album, Cream Album,

Cutting Edge Graphics in the Sixties… The work of Saul Bass.

60’s Pastiche

Douglas Engelbart develops the first computer mouse, setting the stage for the future tool of graphic design.

Apple releases first Macintosh computer, featuring bitmap graphics.

Aldus, formed by Paul Brainerd, develops PageMaker software. Brainerd coins the phrase “desktop publishing.” In the same year, New York firm Manhattan Design creates the MTV logo.

Photoshop version one released, and physicist Tim Berners-Lee develops the world wide web, along with HTML and the concept of website addresses.

~ by hesir on December 16, 2013.

One Response to “Graphic Design development for use in Entertainment Media (Games & Animation)”

  1. […] type of situation in order to better CONVINCE US with your design. Remember the work we did with Graphic Design for Entertainment Media in semester […]

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