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Hi there! As you can see, my name is Chris, I'm at university and I'm currently 21 years old, but there's more to know than my name and age. So what am I doing then? Well I'm studying Game Art at DMU. I am aiming to be one of the top proffesional vehicle artists in the industry. In the meantime, check out this Blog of mine and when your finished, take a look at my website!

All because its a character, doesn't mean it has character

So what exactly makes a character memorable in a certain game, film or other media? there are many elements that have to be well thought out and planned in order to portray a convincing and believable character whatever the medium.

In regards to modern day games, characters have become ever increasingly complex in a technical aspect which has created new technologies in order to bring a character to life.

However, this has not always been the case, as for example, there are many games which are renowned for there characters even though they are mutes such as Link and master chief. Many previous console generations have had there fair share of mute characters whether intentional or due to technical limits. However, mute characters allow the player to essentially "become" the character in the game and allows for further immersion into the games world.  Characters themselves though need to have there own personalities and traits that identify them as individuals from the rest. This can be done in a number of ways such as having characters with certain possessions to give them an interest, a history and more of a back story.

 However, on a technical stand point, it is now possible to portray characters more realistically in terms of animation, expressions and so on.

An example of more human like expressions and behaviour can be seen here.

 This is a render of Nathan Drake in the production pipeline. Here we can see composite maps being added onto the arbitrary mesh for in game use. The purpose of creating these extra normal maps is to help form a believable convincing character. These expressions would be used in game to show Drakes understanding of the events happening in the game world.

Below are some high resolution sculpts that would be baked onto normal maps for use in game.

 All of these extra additions start to come together and bring a character to life. this extra level of detail for me, really brought out the personality of Drake in the game and was able to portray more emotion in the game such a seeing the humour or fear on the characters face.

Other elements are being included for characters such as actors who are used for motion capture. This allowed the animation and fluidity of a character to be greatly increased. for example this technique is used heavily now for cut scenes and certain pre script animation in games, such as jumping over a wall. This added with a fully expressional character with a history and personality can really start to become very convincing and allows for heightened immersion for the player. other such factors is the interaction of the character with the in game world.

One area that has always been of particular difficulty is the voicing of characters and the lip syncing. when this is not done to a high level of precision, the immersion and believability of the character breaks down and leaves the player drawn out of the game. this is another reason why mute characters are often quite a popular choice when creating a character.

All of this however, is rather useless if there is not a believable world and story to accompany it. many game stories can be extremely simple while others can have such a history and back story it almost seems impossible to understand the entire games universe "Metal Gear Solid series". the presentation of a character in a game can be done in different ways too such as through in game events or cut scenes such as the mgs games.

 Essentially, the core elements needed for a character to be convincing for a player come down to a believable game world were the character is set in, a convincing story and solid personality along with the technical elements depending on the purpose of the game.

Its all about the art direction

The art director in any game studio has the rather overwhelming task of managing the entire art style of a game along with the overall visual communication between the game and the player. This also includes the implementation of those clever psychological tricks to portray certain places or scenarios.

An example of this, albeit a film (Black Hawk Down) shows the US soldiers retreating back to the safe zone while being chased by the militia.

Note the washed out unwelcoming hues of blue in the image along with the almost silhouette black outlines of the militia on top of the hill. This portrays a more fearsome or unwelcoming appearance and heightens the sense of urgency/gota get the hell out of here, for the vulnerable soldiers.

The more you look into the position of art direction, the more complex and interesting it seems to become. For example, the art director has the responsibilities of laying out the entire foundation for the game whether this is how the vehicles in a game will look like or the levels of particular details put into textures. One interesting point from researching this position is the close communication between the art director and the game designer. Both are responsible for creating the foundation of a game and in a sense, make or a break a game from the get go.

However, art direction itself comes in many forms and is not always the easiest thing to spot at first glance. Subliminal techniques are added to games and films to portray diversity between two scenes or the good and bad guys. this can for example be done with choosing to have warm soft colours for scenes with the good guys with a contrast of dark and cold colours and lighting for the bad folk.

Despite this, art direction does differ between games and films. The main difference is that games bring another medium into the mix and that is the player. this requires a more delicate approach in a sense of creating the world around the player. Every model, asset, character etc must conform to the overall worlds art style. this is particularly challenging when you take into account that there are undoubtedly going to be technical restrictions along with the fact that the world will be created by numerous people.

Other such tasks involved with being an art director are keeping consistency throughout the production pipeline in the studio. This includes cooperation with the lead artist who has a high technical and art skill. Both must work together in order to create design documents for props and evaluate the work completed by artists at the studio to ensure quality, quantity of work and some good'ol constructive feedback such as areas to possibly improve.

However, I personally think a good art director obviously needs the above skills but im starting to understand that communication between the art director and leads is crucial to the games success and the overall studios success at working together to create an awesome game!

Very interesting

Forgot to post this for you all last night.

Some very interesting job positions with excellent goals to work towards in the coming years.

Particularly note worthy is the Jr character artist.

Very interesting!

Always worth another look

Posted this on the Northern lanes and figured id share it with you guys too!

This is the work of Naughty Dogs lead character artist Richard Diamant on the uncharted 1 & 2 games. Also featured are the works of others from the character department.
I've had this particular thread on the Zbrush forums saved for a couple of years now and it never seizes to inspire me every time.

Click here! and check it out for yourself.

Cool concepts!

Quite a moody use of colour, especially the top image! Some real nice perspective going on in those too.

Amazing work as always from the guys at Crytek!

Quick update

I have just recently joined another blog, created by brother which is run with a few of his mates in the design industry around the world.

Check it out!

All thats left is to improve my personal website!