Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Being an Art Director & Torchlight Screenshots

  Portfolios for Art Directors can be a tricky thing. In the end, my success is dependant upon how well I got a group of artists and animators to capture the vision I had for the game. In addition to the art team I assembled in the studio, the success of the vision depended upon the art house who contributed outsourced assets based on my direction and feedback. And even beyond that, how well the coders, level designers, and the rest of the team handled and used the assets we created for the game.

Game development is a team sport. Projects live and die based on how well a team can collaborate, grow, and execute on their vision. I have always viewed my role as an Art Director like that of a Quarterback (or maybe more accurately an Offensive Coordinator). I must communicate the goals, establish the pipeline, develop an efficiency with everything we do, and practice best behaviors so that we're a well-oiled machine capable of executing something wonderful.
  At times, I'm very hands-on in establishing our stylistic path, creating our visual targets, providing examples of our level of polish, and building up the skills of the artists on the team.
Other times, as an Art Director, you have to trust in the abilities of your teammates after you've set those targets and defined the needs. You've got to find solutions when issues arise and make sure your artists are motivated and feel like they have room to play, explore, and find success, while still meeting your goals and deadlines.
It's a role that is as much about leadership, communication, listening, inspiring, and making the best decisions you can make as it is about producing beautiful artwork.

I include the following selection of screenshots both as examples of my vision as an AD, but also how well our entire team came together to execute on it.
It's a team sport. I think I helped my teammates pull off something visually stunning with an art style that will age well, worked in favor of our technical limitations, and matched our goals for the gameplay considerably well.


3D Models & Art Direction Pg. 1

 This is an example of a POI (point of interest) prop that I modeled and textured to establish the materials and visual look for a tileset. Original concept art by Kyle Cornelius

A vehicle model for Torchlight 2's Act 2 that I concepted, modeled, and textured.

Concept art for the Herkonian Embercraft vehicle. Engineer armor concept (on left) by Kyle Cornelius

Diffuse texture page for the above Embercraft model.

3D model of an abandoned pirate ship in Torchlight 2's Act 1.

Diffuse texture page for the above pirate ship model.

Armor concept over the 3D model of Torchlight's Destroyer character. I created the Destroyer concept and 3D model. Kyle Cornelius created the concept line work for the armor. I painted the final, color armor.

2 examples of Torchlight 2's character armor sets. I designed the Vanquisher set (on left) and the initial concept of the Varkolyn monsters which the armor set on the right is based off of. Varkolyn armor set concepted by Kyle Cornelius. 3D models were created by Jamus Thayn.

2 examples of 'Species' lineups I created for Torchlight 2. A variety of artists worked on various steps of these. I include these to highlight the overall Art Direction and stylistic consistency we established on creatures entirely unique to the IP we created. Art Direction largely comes down to the end result, and I think these 2 lineups are shining examples of what the art team did under my direction. 

Art Direction Pg. 2

When creating Torchlight & Torchlight II, we had both a team of internal artists and an art house in China we outsourced some of our work to. Part of my job was establishing the baseline/template for others to work off of as an example. Once we had our target established and our pipeline for asset creation down, my focus shifted into providing feedback and ensuring everything reached the quality bar of a final in-game asset. 

With our Torchlight style, we focused a lot on how to emphasize and push the stylization of our character anatomy. This shows where we push the weight and mass on distinct body types.

Examples of character class skill concepts for the "Engineer" character.

We generated a considerable amount of prop sheets (like the 2 above) for Torchlight 1 and 2. Concept Artist Kyle Cornelius and I worked in tandem on these, with his focus on design and line work and mine on conceptual design, how they fit into 'world lore', and color rendering.

For an MMO project called Mythos, I created a number of conceptual mockups with notation for our environmental artists and level builders for a wide variety of settings.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Concepts & Sketches

A mood piece for a "large monsters vs. humans in mechs" game pitch. 


Boss concepts and rough silhouettes.

A mood piece for an underwater vessel combat game.

A mood piece for a whimsical space combat and exploration game.

Character concepts for a space crew. I was really trying to push how "ugly and rough-looking" I could get them in this art style without making them completely unappealing. 

Character concept of Nikola Tesla as a dashing space explorer.

Sketches and rough concept of "flight suit" wardrobe for a space crew.

Concepts of historical figures in an alternate earth sci-fi game.

A quick concept of a pirate villain in modified T-pose.

Quick sketches of various "steampunk/sci-fi" crew members.