I’m Dan – Bossa Studio’s Senior Concept Artist who’s been creating artwork for Worlds Adrift since it’s conception.
As you may or may not know, concept art is a form of illustration used to convey an idea for use in many visual creative industries. At its root it’s needed for visual development – from the seed of an idea, to full colour ‘polished’ illustration. The Concept Artist develops an idea in several iterations often with guidance from the Art Director or Lead Artist, trying multiple ideas to achieve the desired result.
From the beginning, I really wanted to be involved in Worlds Adrift. This is the type of game and idea I’d been scribbling in my sketchbooks for years. Floating islands, puffy cumulus clouds, lone figures perched on the edge of a floating ship… I wanted in! For me as a Concept Artist, the trick is to get in my creative bubble and envision the universe you intend to bring to life. One of the first tasks was to outline what the ships would look like and the basic feel for the environment.
Sometimes I like the traditional approach of getting my ideas down with a pencil on paper. Not only do you create more neural connections this way (being more tactile) but this has been my process of formulating ideas for many years. When in ink or pencil, i’ll scan the drawings, then edit and colour them in Photoshop. If not, it’s ‘headphones on’ and i’ll bang the ideas out digitally using my 3 to 4 favourite digital brushes. Depending on the project and style i’ll use the lasso tool for a vector/cell shaded colouring style.
Once approved, I can take the ideas to a more ‘polished’ look, taking into account the composition, colour, mood and tone of the piece. I have my favourite Photoshop brushes that I’ve ‘acquired’ and being a creature of habit, i’ll stick to my favourites. I find it rather annoying If I have too many brushes, as it slows down the process.
It’s really cool to come up with ideas for creatures, ships, and clothing, but my favourite creative moments have been for pieces that have a narrative running through them. I get to explore visual possibilities, playing with colour, light, form and shadow… telling a subtle story within the image. I also play with composition not only within the subject but with the colour palette and where shadow falls. I’m problem solving as I explore…. Where would I like the point of focus? Where do I want the viewers eye to go? will it be by warming the foreground, or will it be from the perspective?… You get the picture. 🙂
Here are some examples of concepts that I’ve really enjoyed for various reasons. Be it subject matter or the chance to explore a narrative.
I started to develop my cross hatch technique in concept art through my inking style which I used for my graphic novel/comic art (www.danlish.com) and this is a good example. It looks like I’ve used a brush, but each line is unique from the next, slowly crafting the shape, flowing from one to the next. Placing small silhouetted figures next to these statues gives a good indicator of the size of each piece, helping the Art Director or whoever’s job it is to model these in Maya, Z-Brush or 3D Max. They’re all painted in a green hue, as this colour was revered in the Kioki Culture (an ancient civilization featured in the game). Each statue is based/influenced on a deity or character from their cultures back story.
Every now and then, when there’s a bit of downtime in the project, i’ll make a conscious effort to create a painted illustration that I can get my teeth into. These type of polished illustrations have an accompanied time-lapse video showing off the process. With these, I enjoy the exploration, the storytelling, the process. With ‘Hunting Girl’ I started off with small thumbnail roughs and a mood board of visual ideas, from various online sources.As there’s not much narrative running through the image, I could focus on the composition and mood of the piece. My focus here was on the sense of mystery and exploration. So – having a breeze blowing her slightly tattered cloak, the mysterious islands poking through the clouds and the girl perched on a rock, as if having a rest, gave that slight sense of mystery and adventure. I used a couple of new brushes on this one that helped create the tree leaves. I used the Lasso tool for the grass. I tried to incorporate my cross hatching technique throughout, as it gives a nice feel and is consistent with the other pieces of artwork.
Emerging Sky Whale
This was created when I had a spare day to experiment. I happened to be looking at other illustrated ‘Sky Whales’ and came across an amazing piece by the super talented Rhads. It seemed perfect for what I wanted the narrative to convey. There’s a duality here: it looks almost apocalyptic, but feels peaceful with the onlooking ships witnessing the whale’s rare appearance. There’s a bit of photo bashing (taking photo’s from various sources and using them creatively) in this one too. Not a big fan of it, but I guess I went there due to time pressure I put on myself. Having a single source of lighting really helps in an image, but what makes it exciting is the amount of reflectivity in that light against solid and non-solid objects.
I hope you enjoyed my ramblings. Until next time Drifters!
Love and hugs,
Senior Concept Artist