10 For the Artists - Episode 1
(Citizen Star News) - by Gerald Evans - 2015-04-27
Lance Powell Supervisory Director CIG (Interviewer, for the most part)
Elwin Bachiller Sr 3D Artist (Ships and making ships possible by making pretty polygons) (Interviewee)
1: The ships require functional interiors with room for powerplants and shield generators. How does this influence the interior and exterior design of the ships?
Smaller ships don't really have interior spaces so the components necessary directly influence the shape of the ship. The bigger the component the larger that section needs to be. Look at the Hornet, 300i, and the Merlin for examples of the exterior.
For the Interior, if there is a problem with a component and the crew needs to interact with it, like the powerplant on the Constellation, we need to make a hallway to access that, or panels to access other systems.
1a: Regarding the Merlin can you tell us where you you started to get to where you are with those volumes?
I started with the Concept model which is what you see in the hangar, but none of the volumes fit properly. So I had to start with the components and shape the exterior with an eye to make sure it still fit the personality. In this case styled like a Mustang or a muscle car.
2: What types of reference materials do you use for weapons and ships? When you start out to design anything how do you get inspirations for the task?
I tend to start by finding out how it works, so it's form follows it's function. If it's meant to fold I look for other things that fold.
Then we look at personality, old Russian helicopters for MISC, stealth planes for AEGIS, etc.
Each style has it's own language. Anvil is blocky, AEGIS is sleeker.
3: Can we expect to see some concept art for alien animals and plants?
I want to know too.
Lance: The alien races are being fleshed out as we speak. The details are as complex as you'd expect them to be given the scope of the project. Not every alien comes from the same gravity-style planet. Some are heavier G or lighter G and it reflects the way they look. The Vanduul operate more on a 3D plane. Everything is more 3D. Plants is being headed up by Mark Skelton and the PU team and we should see that come up in a month and a half and the social module in a month. We will have alien pets.
4: Do the artists hang out together and share ideas or are they islands unto themselves?
They hang out together and share strengths, ping each other for feedback. The artist in me want to own a thing in it's entirety, but if I can't close it myself I go to a team.
5: When it comes to clothing the characters, are you designing them with the expectation that we'll be able to change their colors, patterns and materials? What sort of challenge has the idea of user customization presented?
Yes. Customization across the board is something we've been focused on for a long time.
The challenges are not with the customization but with how we're utilizing the technology. For example a lot of the cloth simulation is from Rhys, and the did that beautifully and to take that to the next stage presents difficulties.
If I take a pattern for a shirt (the cut and fashioning of it) and modify that it changes how it fits and moves on a body.
This is stuff that is coming but you will be able to fine tune your character.
6: Since the ship pipeline has changed, do you draw ships from the inside out or the outside in?
We've done all three to include concurrent.
We define boundaries and as long as we don't cross those we can design them from both aspects and meet in the middle. That meeting is an organic process, but since we're starting in the same place it works well. Since the exterior typically leads the way we look at where that is and work to make the interior fit, or we take a second pass and incorporate more of the scheme of the outside.
6a: What phases do you go through to get a ship done?
Well we get a concept done, and if these meet the gameplay requirements we start. If they don't then we do some concepting in house. We start with modeling, the geometry and then custom normals which makes our geo look better without being as resource heavy. Then a material pass to determine the texture and light play, and then into destructibles and animation.
7: Has there been any design that makes you say wow?
I'm a huge fan of David Hobbins, so the Reliant is the one that I really love. I hope I get to work on it.
We see concepts every day coming in and I can't wait to fly my ship into the hangar of a larger ship, blast some fools, steal one of their ships and fly out.
The Vanguard is the ship that I really want to fly and the ship I think is really sexy
8: How do you personally deal with negative criticism when dealing with something you'd otherwise be proud of?
It's something you learn to not take personally. We're all trying to make the best game possible and we make think something works really well, but if we take that personally it makes it harder for me to progress. This is something I made, but it isn't me, and you're trying to help make my product better.
This isn't like a console game and we have some great people but we're not waiting for the game release to see the reviews of our work. Sometimes we get feedback from the community days after release. So yeah, it's Alpha and it will keep getting redefined and polished. You meet the vision of the director and the community and as long as the passion is satisfied and I'm comfortable with how it looks, you have to stop there.
9: As someone interested in 3D art, where should I start?
I started with Maya (the tool of choice over 3DS Max) but you can find out anything you want about each tool through YouTube. So get a copy or a student version and just start.
Lance: I started with CAD drawing on paper, but yeah there are schools that will train you and give you a great tool set to help you develop your interest, but if you have the passion and drive you can get a great start on YouTube. What will set you apart is the passion and drive. Those make the difference between decent, good, and great.
Just being proficient is step one. Being an artist and knowing a tool are two different things. It's easy to learn the tool, becoming an artist is a lot harder.
10: Can we expect to see graffiti?
Yes. The PU team is working to create a huge difference in spaces and cultures.
TL;DR: There's a lot of styles and themes to each culture and you'll be able to represent the area based on these styles.
The graffiti makes things things different because, where did they get the spray paint in this highly advanced, digital world? So we came up with things that would make the tagging appropriate.