Film Noir Evaluation

 

For our Film Noir Assignment, we were tasked (in groups) to shoot and act out given scenes, with each group being assigned different scenes of which all tie together to create a cohesive story. Once each individual group had shot their scenes, they were then to be shared and edited by each group, applying a greyscale filter and various adjustments.

Our group started by discussing our given scene, figuring out who would be delegated what work and how we were going to accomplish this task. Firstly, a storyboard was created, of which informed our shoot. We decided on our actor, camera operator/s, and director/s, then moving onto shooting, of which consisted of a free-form series of shot selections informed by the storyboard, as well as our knowledge of and research into Film Noir/cinematography.

We worked as a team when it came to filming and directing, giving and receiving feedback and making use of our limited time on the set. Once we had recorded all that we needed, we moved onto editing our own scene, of which was then distributed with the other’s groups clips.

Upon receiving all the footage, we moved onto editing both the visuals and audio, attempting to create a suspenseful narrative through the use of shot selection and audio effects, distorting the voice of the actor in order to create a wind-like audio effect in the background, helping to connect scenes and create tension when needed. The cuts between scenes, with voices overlaid over choice shots, helped create a cohesive narrative and story, aided by the aforementioned audio connections.

A black and white filter was then placed over the footage, with adjustments to the values and contrast as well, helping to create the Film Noir vibe created through the subject matter, delivery, editing, and story.

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Platformer Game Design Evaluation

We were tasked, for our games design assignment, to create a game level for a side-scroller platform game based upon research into Classic/Retro games. Initially, research was conducted into various platform games, gathering images and reviewing/analysing their mechanics, visuals, gameplay elements and various other factors. Alongside this, research was done regarding myths and classical stories, another area we had to base our game concept upon, with the classical story I chose being the blanket term of The Hero’s Journey (more info in previous blog post).

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Once I had the majority of my research completed, I began ideating and attempting to figure out the direction that I wanted to take my game, looking at references to help gain inspiration. I settled upon a sci-fi based platformer, backed by alternate evolution theories that touch upon topics such as synthetic life forms and inter-connected utopian societies that have fallen into ruin due to a biological plague (more info in previous blog post).

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A large portion of the experimentation and ideation occurred within my sketchbook, attempting to figure out both the mechanics and visual style of the game. Changes occurred, with different styles and approaches being tried out. The use of colour and multi-media allowed me to experiment more freely, opening new pathways and opportunities for creativity. The creation of the main character was a priority for a while, as it helped to dictate the visual style for the rest of the entire game, of which leans towards a vector-based, ‘flat shape’ design aesthetic. Once the character had been ideated, drawn in turnaround, and created in Illustrator, I moved onto conceptualising the backgrounds, platforms, and other elements within the game environment, as well as fleshing out the character’s animation possibilities and game mechanics.

Animation-wise, I created four different cycles; idle, walking/running, jumping, and attacking. These animations were ideated in my sketchbook and then brought into Illustrator and Photoshop for creation and animating, with Photoshop allowing me to import my Illustrator files with layers intact; of which is extremely helpful when working with animation in Photoshop, as the modular nature of the character’s body and layer structure allowed me to manipulate its body using not only the free transform tool, but the Mesh tool as well.

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For the walk cycle, and the other animations, I researched animation techniques and references, allowing me to match my character’s structure and movement to that of a human’s. The actual animating was done via manipulating it’s ‘limbs’ and placing them in different position on different frames, of which creates the illusion of movement when played back. More complicated animations, such as the jump animation, required a larger number of frames, as well as the use of the Mesh tool. This allowed me to deform parts of the character, especially the limbs, to create a bend in the knees.

The background was one of the more complicated aspects of this assignment, with the concept of this level being based in a city currently being overtaken by a biological plague, vines curling around structures with moss covering the ground, mushrooms sprouting from smaller limbs of vines in order to create verticality and dynamic paths of movement. Visually and technically, the background was created through a vector-based flat shape design workflow, creating modular elements that were able to be slotted together and repeated, with some variation, to create a cohesive visual style.

Creating the ground required the use of the Pathfinder tool/menu, allowing me to cut away the edges to create a modular effect. The actual ground ‘sprite’ was created through a series of layered shapes, varying the colours and values, adding shadows in choice places, in order to create a more three-dimensional look while not distracting the player from the rest of the game.

For the vines, adding ‘cuts’ into the shape allowed me to create disguised ‘form-lines’, once again creating the illusion of three-dimensionality, with the shadows and added detail reinforcing this look. Multiple vine variations were made, enabling me to create a variety of vine structures in various directions, creating visual interest within the level. The same applies to the platforms, with them being based upon mushroom references that I gathered, their three-dimensional aspects created through careful manipulation of different coloured/value shapes to create a visual illusion.

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There are several platform types; Tendril (protrudes from vines), Red Mushroom (semi-bouncy platform), Purple Mushroom (bouncy platform), and Flat Mushroom (regular platform attributes, similar to the Tendril protrusions).

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Once the character, platforms, ground, and main vines had been created, I moved onto the rest of the background; extra vines for the middle/fore-ground, as well as buildings in the background. Based upon ideation in my sketchbook I created, using similar methods as earlier, these elements and placed them within the game environment/level, of which was sketched out beforehand. The pen tool and layer system proved extremely helpful, allowing me to create the buildings out of organic shapes using only two values. For the tendrils/smaller vines, I created a brush constructed from a square consisting of two colours (the medium and shadow colours assigned to the main vines). This enabled me to create paths that I then assigned to that brush, of which I proceeded to manipulate using the Width editor tool, creating slender vines intertwining amongst each other and their buildings. The player will associate the shape language and colours associated with the larger vines with these smaller ones, recognising that the buildings hidden in the background via mist possess similar designs. This creates depth and scale within the scene, as the player realises that those buildings must be rather far away, and, therefore large in comparison to the player.

The sunbeams, of which allows the player to recharge their energy levels, were created with the gradient and pen tools.

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This illusion of depth is further reinforced by the atmospheric perspective placed between the different ‘layers’ within the scene, appearing as a bluish mist.  Creating this effect consisted of strategically placed layers in-between other layers/groups that were assigned to the various spatial areas within the scene/level. Lowering the opacity on the buildings in the background allowed an even greater effect, as well as a more refined control upon the perceived density of the mist and distance of the buildings.

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Upon completion of the level and character animations, the HUD and sprite sheets were created and compiled. For the HUD, two main bars are visible, with the blue one being assigned to health and the yellow one designated for energy, of which is consumed when using abilities and ranged attacks. The colour scheme for both the HUD and sprite sheets were pulled from the character and game environment, reinforcing a cohesive visual style.

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HUD

Screenshot 1

(not the final amount of frames present here, just several ‘keyframes’)

Character Sprite Sheet 1.jpg

 

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Finishing off, the character animations were placed within the game level environment, with the HUD present in the top left, reacting accordingly when the character discharges their weapon.

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Overall, I believe I was able to create a visually interested game concept, using research into both platform games and real-life references in order to create an interesting series of design solutions. More work could have been done regarding the overall game deign, fleshing out the level and adding planned obstacles, mechanics, enemies, bosses, NPCs, and other elements.

App Design Evaluation

 

For this assignment we were tasked with creating a working application design for mobile use, making use of research and references gathered from apps in the industry.

I began by researching application design and its multi-faceted industry, touching upon various principles and theories of design in the process. Not only was research done into application design in general, but also into applications already on the market and available to download. Analysing these applications, both ‘bad’ and ‘good’, I was able to extrapolate a variety of information, especially by observing trends between both the current state of the industry and where it has evolved from, as well as between good applications and bad applications. Observing and recognizing what makes an application good, and what makes an application bad, allows one to create a shortlist of factors to either include or exclude from their designs.

Taking into consideration ethical, moral and law-based obligations and factors is incredibly important as well, as one must respect both trademarking and copyrighting when it comes to Intellectual Property (IP) and design in general.

Not only was written research conducted, but visual as well; gathering a variety of images, both of elements within applications, as well as application designs, screens, and flowcharts, enabled me to be inspired with a basis of design that is grounded in the current state of the industry, allowing me to create an application that leans towards minimalism and modernism, staple keywords in this field of design.

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For my application, I chose a calendar task-management style of application. In conjunction with sketches of my own application design, I researched images of other applications that served a similar purpose, of which helped inform my design process even further. Having mood-boards of both applications/screens/pages from applications, elements pulled from apps and websites, as well as applications installed upon my phone, gave me an opportunity to decipher the structure of good application design, and reconstruct it for my own purposes.

For the ideation process I created a multitude of sketches, testing out different layouts, wire-frames, elements and fonts, as well as different names and logo designs. This variety allowed me to test out different directions and flows for the application and its screens/pages.

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Once I had settled upon the main design direction for my application I moved into the digital medium, utilising Illustrator in order to create my design and flow-chart. Ensuring that there were correlations and similar elements between related screens in the flow-chart and application helps ensure the user knows where they are and where they are connected to/are sitting within the flow chart. Not only does colour help with this, but shape design and text information help communicate the relevant information efficiently in both subtle and obvious ways.

The name of the application, ToDooZ, is a slight play on words; the combination of To-Dos and ‘It’s a doozy’, subtly hinting that this application will make the management of work an easy task. The design of the logo includes the letters ‘T’, ‘D’, and ‘Z’, as well as a simplified and implied calendar design, making use of three rectangles and a box, of which the rest of the design lies within, to hint at a calendar-based aspect to the application. The strip at the top of the calendar is coloured blue, while the three rectangles are red, correlating with various shapes, screens and mechanics of the application.

For the design, there is the main Home page, of which enables the user to access the other three main pages; Calendar, Reminders, and To-Dos. Calendar allows the user to view the entire month, as well as whether they have Reminders or To-Dos for any of the days within the current or future months. Tapping/Clicking on the Reminders or To-Dos icons within the Calendar will bring up a menu that allows the user to view their To-Dos and Reminders for that day, as well as giving the user an option to return to the Home screen. To exit this view, the user can click on the arrow at the top of the screen, allowing the player to return to the currently ‘greyed-out’ Calendar page/screen.

From the Main screen the user is also able to access the main Reminders and/or To-Dos screens, of which give the user the option of accessing either the Reminders or To-Dos pages without returning to the home screen, or they may choose to immediately access the Calendar page.

Application_Design_Refined_JPG

(Note: Colours displayed are not exact to actual colours used.)

Reviewing my design, it could have used a more professional polish regarding both the visuals and mechanics, allowing the user to have more options and tools at their disposal. Not only that, but the logo design could have been clearer and more readable, enabling it to be recognizable from any distance. For the overall visuals, the use of stroke and outlines could have been minimized, allowing for a cleaner and subtler look to the design. A more in-depth look at fonts and font-pairing would have helped to create a more cohesive design and layout, allowing a better hierarchy of information to exist within the application design.

Muse Screen Flow Test:

Application Design Flow-Chart:

 

Overall, I believe my design is able to communicate its desired intent, however more work and a closer attention to detail would have ensured a more efficient and cohesive application.

Hope Animation Assignment – Development and Evaluation

Initially, when I started this assignment, I created a series of goals in Asana. I organised these by task and date, assigning them certain days and general time-frames to achieve in order to accomplish the assignment in an efficient and timely manner. Once this was in place, I began researching and ideating.

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 When it came to research, I investigated several topics;Hope (meaning, in historical and philosophical context, references that are both visual and non-visual, and how hope is used in an example of art, design,literature and or film), 2D animation (methods, techniques, story and content etc.),storyboards, animatics and software.
Once all that research had been compiled and written about,with references and images gathered, I moved onto ideation and sketchbook work.I started with an idea of a triangle, rising and projecting light in a dark world. This light would fall upon a figure, whom is in despair upon the ground,while several more triangles appear in the distance as the sky lightens. A series of notes regarding the storyline, key points and visual elements were created,supplemented with several sketches and thumbnails. My sketchbook, as it progresses, includes more notes and drawings, as well as storyboards and character exploration.

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The direction I took, stylised and semi-abstract, was heavily influenced by research into colour and shape language, especially in relation to the concept of hope and the emotional connotations of those elements. This is evident in the shapes I chose, with an upside-down triangle for the representation of future hope and a better future, flipping the usual connotation of the violent and aggressive shape language that is normally interpreted through triangles. For hope, I used a circle as a representational tool; combined with white and its fleeting appearances in the story, it puts forth a narrative on the elusive nature of the concept.
With several different shapes and value combination present,I needed to find a way to separate them, as well as introduce texture. To do so, I created several sketches, assigning value groups to certain shapes and foreground, middle ground and background sections. To add further character to the story, the character was developed further, seeking out a consistent style to use in the animation. After much exploration, both into simplified/stylised,realistic/semi-realistic, angular and soft, line and broad/charcoal strokes, I settled on a combination of line and charcoal strokes, with the character moving between both the ‘medium’ and visual style as well. Fluctuations between construction-esque manikins, simplified skeletons, fleshed-out bodies and charcoal strokes were made, each representing a certain emotional state, as well as the position of the character in the story.
The bare, simplified and skeletal styles, as well as the constructionist ones, symbolise the emptiness of the character, with some order being restored to their being when the orb/sphere appears and returns throughout the animation. The charcoal strokes, with the character being ‘filled in’, represents the character before the turmoil and distress, as well as afterwards. This shows the character as ‘whole’, his being undisturbed by chaos and discord. Colour experimentation, as well as storyboard development,was explored as well. The colour-work in my sketchbook was done using colour pencils, with a fine-liner being another medium/tool that I used.
The final storyboard, of which I created digitally in Photoshop, does not deviate too heavily from the one in my sketchbook. It was also used to construct my animatic, making the process much more efficient.
For the storyboard, made in Photoshop, I attempted to create a good indication of the story, visuals, content and camera  angles/shots/movements. I used a template found online, creating groups for each storyboard and its respective panels to ensure better structuring and layering. The first panel, depicting the character while still in a happy state, has bright blue and cyan colours in evidence. The character stands tall and proud, confident and happy. This panel makes use of arrows and a rectangular inner frame to illustrate zooming in, where a transition occurs towards panel two. There, a vignette effect is displayed, showing chaos or struggle that is occurring in the character’s life. The third panel shows the character in a dark, textural void with tendrils of black and red swirling towards him, contrasting the ones found in panel 1. This reflection and juxtaposition of the first panel reinforces the idea that the character is going through a difficult time, with elements of his life that were previously positive now affecting him negatively. Afterwards, a transitional sequence is depicted through several panels, with textural effects, custom brushes,masking, layering and grouping being used to create these visuals. Those abstract and textural images, which will flash upon the screen briefly, are representations of the inner turmoil faced by the character. After a series of those images, a panel depicting the character falling is shown. Here, a dark background with a static texture is evident, showing the confusion and negativity imbued in the perceived chaotic void of life.
However, in the panel after this, a white sphere appears before the character, whom raises their head to view it. The camera angle here is slightly above over-the-shoulder, showing the top of the back of the character’s head with the sphere above and before him. The camera will then cut to a view of the character’s face from the front, lifting his head up to face the orb/sphere in the foreground. The camera, in the next panel, is then further back. Here, the character turns to track the sphere as it moves across the screen. It will then fly up and away from the character as he stretches out towards it. Clearly distraught in the next panel, as he has effectively lost his fleeting glance at hope, he walks in a slumped manner before lifting his head once again to view the orb return. In this next panel, the sphere/orb travels towards and around him as he tracks it, turning side to side as it orbits him before flying off into the distance.
Once again, the character has ‘lost hope’ and struggles togo on, stumbling in the dark void he inhabits. Shortly after stumbling to the ground, another transitional sequence of abstract shapes and textures appears.Following that, a scene where an abstract representation of the character’s ‘soul’ is depicted, showing how he experiences great emotional and spiritual pain from the complete absence of hope. He falls into despair, as shown in the next few panels. Here, several camera angles show him on all-fours, within the dark void he still inhabits. After a while, a light begins to shine upon him.This heralds the return of the orb, of which orbits him once again. He then lifts his head, the next panel showing a much more colourful scene; the sun is rising, with both warm and cool colours bleeding into/washing over the background. Here, the character is still on all-fours, however, strong directional light begins to wash over him. The next panel displays the presence of a large upside-down triangle, the sphere residing next to it as it casts its light upon the now kneeling character. The next panel depicts the character standing up, with the camera showing only his shoulders and up as he stands up.Afterwards, a scene with the character standing is shown, several more characters appearing in the background as the light from the main one is cast onto the character.
During the development of this storyboard, I had to ensure a coherent story that related to the concept of hope, making sure that the theme was communicated not only through shape language and story, but also colour and posing.

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Moving forwards, I started to work on my animatic. To do this, I used Photoshop’s Timeline with the workspace set to Motion. I then created several groups, referencing the ones created for the storyboard, as well as copying over the folder structures from the document for the storyboard. Having the storyboard done beforehand made the process of creating the animatic much more efficient, cutting down on the time required to make it.In this phase of the assignment, I worked mainly upon getting the timing of the scenes right, acting out several actions and timing them to ensure accuracy.Some changes were made during the animatic phase, however the visuals remained mostly the same to the ones for the storyboards.

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Once I had created the animatic, we went into a feedback phase. Here, we created Google Forms where we created a series of questions that we then had out peers respond to, essentially gathering feedback and critique.

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The feedback was rather helpful, highlighting the areas thatI needed to work on and re-visit. Afterwards, I moved onto the actual animation for the assignment. Before I begun animating, I took reference videos me performing certain actions. This is to ensure accuracy regarding the motion and timing, creating believability. Not only did I take videos, but pictures as well. Those images helped with specific poses, added to the ability to useAdobe Premiere to dissect the video reference, I had a decent amount of reference to use when animating.
Animation Tests and In-Class Exercises/Tutorials:

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When it came to animating in Photoshop, I had to do quite a bit of research, as well as trial and error. To help with organisation, I organised the animation into several scenes, each with their own folder structures inside. To animate, I had to create video layers using Layer ->Video Layers -> New Blank Video Layer. Within this, I could animate frame by frame, navigating with the arrow keys and seeing the next and/or previous frames using Onion Skinning, of which is accompanied by several options in an expandable menu/drop down menu attached to the animation panel/timeline.
When I needed still images that were to persist over certain periods of time, as well as have certain transformations applied to them, I created a normal layer and converted the contents within to smart objects,allowing me to manipulate, edit and transform them more freely when it came to the Timeline Panel.  Some of the scenes required careful planning and layer structuring due to the overlapping nature of some elements, this was aided by the ability to group layers, as well as structure them in the Timeline Panel, moving them around, layering and lining them up with each other.

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When it comes to animating, I am still quite inexperienced.I faced many challenges, of which having reference helped solve. I used AdobePremiere to navigate my reference videos, pausing it at strategic points to view the ‘key frames’. One area of particular difficulty was the scene where the character is seen from the side view and moves from left to right, stopping and then breathing rapidly. While I was animating, the depiction of breath was initially quite unrealistic, however, as I was drawing I got into a rhythm,realising how to animate the movement better by acting it out myself,exaggerating the movements. In order to depict rapid breathing through the chest, I raised the rib cage and flattened the stomach for the inhalation, and vice versa for when the character exhaled.
To animate the ‘growth’ of the triangles, I created them as smart objects, used the transform option and created keyframes, starting them out small and ending them at a larger size a short period of time. To ensure accuracy, I created a separate layer for guides, placing dots at the original points of the ‘original’ triangles before transformations. To show a gentler fade, I used the gradient tool to fill in a selection when creating the triangles, of which was enhanced by the use of a soft eraser.
In comparison, animating with lines was faster than using the broad charcoal strokes. When using the broad strokes, achieving proper proportions and body shape was difficult, especially when using only a few limited values. The lines allowed me to create more gestural shapes and forms,allowing me to create flowing frame by frame animation. The broader strokes were more suited to the still images and shorter scenes, especially ones affected by lighting and the heavy use of colour.
The use of lines also helped with accuracy, allowing me to break down the movement and scenes more-so than if I had predominately used the charcoal strokes. Ease-in and out, as well as timing and the position of the body and its individual parts during movement are important factors to pay attention to, as these help add realism and appeal to the animation.

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The audio, created by my friend Tristan, is used to emphasise the chaotic and discordant nature of the character’s journey, as well as the fickle nature of hope. The electronic and unsettling notes sound out during key moments, signalling shifts in tone and visuals, persisting even through the times of supposed hope and happiness. The gong that sounds out during the transitions of despair hints at the finality of death, something linked to the feelings of hope and despair, a driving factor for humanity.
Compared to most professionally produced animations, mine appears un-finished, with line work and animation errors throughout. Colour-wise, the use of flats combined with clean line-work would of been beneficial, providing a cleaner look to the overall animation. An example of this would be Snow White, where the use of clean lines, flats and painted backgrounds create visually interesting scenes, as well as fluid animation. Instead of using charcoal strokes, I could of filled in the lines of the characters, applying lighting using the lasso selection and gradient tools. The  backgrounds in my animation are rather simple and abstract, with only a few values used to separate the ground from the sky, and in some scenes only two values are used to divide the ground and the sky, with textures applied to add visual interest. Further along, the background become slightly more complex, with coloured gradients, a sun and several triangles being introduced. However, compared the Snow White, these backgrounds are simple and abstract, lacking the traditional painterly quality evident in the animations of old.

Stop Motion Animation Assignment – Development and Evaluation

For the Letter/Alphabet Stop Motion part of the AnimationAssignment, I started in my sketchbook with the ideation of stop motion avenues and possibilities. I wrote down, supplemented by previous and current research,several types of stop motion techniques, processes and mediums. My initial direction was related to the use of a chalkboard/blackboard and some chalk,leaning it against a surface such as a chair or wall, using chalk to create the required letter.
The way I was going to achieve the stop motion effect with the letter and chalkboard combo was thus; I would measure out segments, each insets of 12 ‘frames’. I would then advance the lines to another segment, talking a picture, and then progressing on. Once I had advanced the lines a decent amount, I would erase by rubbing and/or using a wet cloth to wipe off the undesired marks/chalk.
The letter I was given, ‘Z’, was created using this method.I measured out several sections, broke them up into segments and then advanced the lines across the board, erasing and taking pictures as needed. To ensure stability, I mounted the camera on a tripod and placed the chalkboard on an easel/drawing board. I used some paper and a pencil to record the frame rate and images taken, using tallies and totals to ensure consistency.
After review from teachers, I gathered information on how to improve my stop motion animation. Several of the suggestions were related to font, character/s, lighting, colour and sound, as well as frame rate. Regarding lighting, the images were taken in daylight, light fluctuating through blinds.This created visual disturbances and stuttering, lowering the quality of the animation.
I then went back to ideation, informed by these suggestions and various new directions. The inclusion of a character, such as a zebra,and/or other elements relating to the letter ‘Z’ were suggested. In order to include elements that related more to the letter in question, I created several sketches and did some exploration in terms of font and shapes. I came up with amore organic font, more efficient when it comes to managing the frame rate/number of pictures required in relation to the timing. To relate the letter to an example of a word starting with Z, such as zebra, I included sketches of black and white stripes. I experimented with this in several ways,of which can be seen in the images below.
After creating more sketches in my sketchbook, I went back to taking images to create the stop motion animation. Feedback also included the mentioning of the background in the images I had taken, and that it was too distracting; the suggestion, therefore, was to zoom in on the chalkboard. Due to the orientation of the chalkboard and distances between the table it was on,and the counter the camera was on, required me to pursue other options. I tried out using a sketchbook, however the bright paper made it difficult for the camera to adjust and focus.
To solve these problems, I pursued another medium. I extracted zig-zags from the letter Z, relating to that were twisting pieces of pasta. To make this new medium work, I used a cutting board placed upon a counter. Atop that board, I placed pieces of pasta, arranging them into a Z with extra lines coming off it to form a zig-zag. To add visual interest and some more motion, I created a zig-zag, on the left hand-side of the shot, that would move from top to bottom and vice versa. To boost the frame rate and smoothness of those frames, double pictures for each ‘frame was taken’, thus doubling the frame rate.

Stop Motion Animation:

Digital Development and Evaluation – HUD Assignment

 

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At the beginning of the digital creation of my HUD, I sought to pin down the visual language and style early. I experimented with the modified trapezium shape that I designed in my sketchbook, expanding upon it further. I then incorporated the LED strip around the edge, making use of strokes and shapes and a soft airbrush to create the glowing LED effect. To create the element, I used a pen tool to create the overall shape, added a stroke for the LEDs, copied the shape and enlarged that to create the rim. The segments were created using the line tool repeatedly.

 

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Once I had the main design direction down, I used the sketches in my sketchbook as reference as I began to create the HUD. I decided to have two main elements on the bottom part of the HUD, angled off as though they were jutting out of the HUD itself and wrapping around the viewer. The bottom middle section is more flat, located directly in the centre and below the drivers eyes. A similar process to that mentioned before was used to create these elements, with the side panels being skewed to create the extruding look.

Backing panels were created to keep the other panels from floating off, paired with the bright blue LEDs, allow the HUD to be readable on most backgrounds. The use of guides and the pen tool was integral in this process, allowing me to line up the various elements and ensure symmetry. The shapes, having been created with the pen tool, were able to be manipulated and changed as I designed. The bar at the top was created, once again, in a similar fashion to the other elements. This time I added in a battery charge bar, using more lines to create segments that would react and change colour depending on their charge. In order to create the look of glass covering the chargeing bar, which represents the current electrical charge of the car, I used the bevel effect, as well as manually designed highlights.

Once the main parts of the HUD were positioned, I began to incorporate the overlay. The analogous colours of blue and green harmonised nicely, standing out from one another yet unifying the design as a whole. This is further reinforced later on when I included green in other parts of the HUD, such as in the speedometer and the way finder/compass.

To create a more 3-dimensional look, I used the 3D Extrusion tool/option to manipulate the bottom panels. The extruded area, even when manipulated, did not fit in with the rest of the HUD. I then decided to manually incorporate 3D elements instead, using the line tool to create a vanishing point off the side of the canvas. I then used the pen tool to create sides to the panels.

Moving on from that, I further worked on the overlays. I included your current position and lap, using the TimeBurner font to do so. In order to create the glowing effect, which helped communicate the ‘overlay’ aspect, I used both the Outer Glow effect with the Lighten blending mode. I set the colour to a bright, saturated green and manipulated various sliders to create the desired effect.

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To create the track map, I traced over screenshots taken using Google Maps of London and other surrounding areas. To do so, I used the pen tool to create a series of nodes that I then manipulated using the Convert Anchor Point tool. This allowed me to create curves, more accurately tracing the roads. Once that was completed, I turned the path into a selection and added a stroke to it to create the track. I then took the traced track, on its own layer, and isolated it into another document. There, I placed it in a copy of one of the panels from the HUD. I then created a 3D extrusion, manipulating it in space. Once I was happy with the angle and level of extrusion, I used the gradient tool, opacity and eraser to hide and reveal different parts of the track, fading it into the display.

To add more information to the track map, I created a circle that I extruded in 3D to represent the player (green) and the other racers (red). To create the checkpoint/start/end point, I created a triangle using the shape tool. To ensure readability I added a grey stroke around the border. Afterwards, I created the chequered flag within a mask, using a series of black and white squares. Once completed, I placed that on a part of the track and copied over the layer group back into my HUD document.

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Initially I had created a bar-based speedometer for the HUD, however, that design did not fit the overall direction and was distracting. Therefore, I decided to re-do the speedometer in a more modern, stylish way. I used the TimeBurner font to create a series of numbers representing speed in KM/H. I then created multiple divides, made using the line tool, between these numbers. Below the numbers themselves I created dots so that the positioning of the needle is more accurate and is able to be read more clearly. The needle itself was created using the pen tool and went through multiple iterations. I decided to go for a long, sleek look to the needle, the modernity being further reinforced by the contrasting glow and dark background. To create familiarity, I referenced real-life speedometers and included a base for the needle. With the needle being a digital representation, the base is more to create a grounded area that the eye can use to track the needle along, rather than actually house and operate the needle. It also provides a glow, spreading out from beneath it, helping to illuminate the surrounding area and tying in with the glow from other areas of the HUD.

To create the glow for the text, lines and dots, I used a similar process to the one I used for the overlay. The needle, instead of just having an Outer Glow, had an Inner Glow effect applied upon it as well. This furthered the glowing digital look that I was creating.

As I progressed with the HUD, especially after I added highlights to the panels and displays using bevels and gradients, I realised that the blue of the needle and numbers were being lost and confused due to the close proximity of the same blue colour.

Therefore, I changed the needle, numbers, lines and dots in the speedometer display to green. This created a much better visual impact and increased the readability without creating too much contrast. To change the colour, I added in the Colour Overlay effect and set it to green.

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The creation of the targeting overlay digitally was done with referencing the early sketches made in my sketchbook. The design itself is heavily inspired by the symbol of a battery when represented in an electric circuit. I used the varying lengths and contrasts of verticals and horizontals to inform my designs, creating a tiered overlay. At the centre of the targeting overlay, I have contrasted those verticals and horizontals by creating a diamond shape with a circle at the centre, mimicking a stylised eye. The lines themselves were created using the line tool with the help of the guides and rulers. The glow, once the overlay was put into the HUD, was created using the Outer Glow effect.

 

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In order to create the way finder/compass, I had to extend the middle panel to accommodate the circular shape. The intention of this element is due show the player what direction they should be heading, as well as their orientation in the map. The compass itself will react to the direction that the player faces, spinning to hide and reveal parts of the circular digital display.

To create the way finder/compass, I had to extend the middle panel to accommodate the circular shape. The intention of this element is to show the player the direction they should be heading, as well as their orientation in the map. The compass itself will react to the direction that the player faces, spinning to hide and reveal parts of the circular digital display.

The TimeBurner font did not create the type of capital N that I needed to ensure readability for this element, so I instead tried out a few fonts before settling on Cordia New. Again, I added the relevant glow effects and colour overlays.

 

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I experimented with several colour harmonies, although I did stick with the analogous blue and green. These colours were ones used by the Battery Conservationist team, which is the team this HUD is for.

During the process of creating the HUD, I regularly referenced real life dashboards, my research and analysis of other game’s HUDs and my sketchbook.

For the final HUD design, I added in a background to provide context. In order to create this, I used an image from Google Maps that I then manipulated and photo-bashed with the aid of several other photos. I masked out the sky and inserted an image of a starry night. I then used several photos of cities and long-exposure photographs of streets to build up the rest of the image. TO create the sky line I inserted several images, layering them on top of one another and integrating them by applying blending modes and erasing unnecessary parts. The healing brush tool helped with repairing areas where needed. To create the look of headlights, I used the gradient tool to lay in some blue light spilling out from in front of the player’s ‘car’.

I created several variations, with a solid bevel on one, a glass bevel on another and one with the isolated HUD.

hud-development-final-bevelhud-development-final-glass-bevelhud-development-final-isolated-hud

Compared to some of the more recent driving games that I researched and analysed, such as Forza Motorsport 6, my design is not as minimalist, however I believe that it works well in context. The brief was to create a HUD for a racing sim game that features electric concept cars. The Battery Conservationist’s logo and HUD complement each other nicely and fit into the context of the imaginary game level nicely. However, I could have made better use of the space by going for a more simplified and stylish approach, though that would not fit with the team’s identity.

I applied some of the lessons I learnt when analysing the HUDs from other racing sim games, such as the need to create an area for the player to see without being cluttered by too much useless information. The targeting overlay may appear slightly intrusive but it only appears when you are fully charged and are ready to use your vehicle’s special ability or weaponry.

Seeing as we were working in a computer room/classroom environment, we had to ensure safe working practices so that no harm befalls you, your peers or your teachers. Bags were kept out of the walkways, off the desks and no food or drink was consumed inside the room. This guaranteed that there are no tripping hazards and that no equipment is damaged.

 

Design development process (as mentioned in Task 1 Blog Post):

The design development process can be broken up into R.I.D.E., meaning Research, Ideation, Development and Evaluation. This is a tried and true method that helps provide a clearer roadmap, especially once planned, for projects and assignments.

The process is continuous, even though you may have ‘completed’ your research near the beginning of the project, more should still be done throughout the duration of the assignment. You should continuously be analysing and evaluating your designs, and once you have arrived at a more finished design or prototype, you must evaluate that before either moving onto finalisation or going back to the ideation and development phase.

 

 Images used for the photobashed background were found online and can be accessed here:

 

http://wallpaperswide.com/city_lights_2-wallpapers.html

 

http://hd-wall-papers.com/single/1383638-city-lights-wallpaper.html

 

http://more-sky.com/WDF-418396.html

 

Sketchbook Development and Evaluation – HUD Assignment

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For my logos and HUD designs, I started off creating sketches in my sketchbook. I attempted to create three distinct yet connected design directions for the three different logos and teams, evolving the designs through multiple iterations. I experimented heavily with alterations and variations, trying out symmetrical and non-symmetrical layouts.

The designs evolved as I iterated, with the three different directions becoming clearer the more I worked. I not only experimented with the shapes, but also the values, testing out value hierarchies and making sure that the logos read well. For the Red Angels logo, I focused more on the contrast between round and angular, making use of values to further this juxtaposition. The arrangement of the circles and ‘wings’ were initially inspired by the position of a pilot or driver in the cockpit or seat of a vehicle. As I drew I realised that it resembled a radiation symbol, I then made use of that to help inform the designs, pushing the arrangements and proportions of the angular ‘wings’.

In regards to The Architects’ logo, I wanted to include an angular diamond shape that is reinforced by strong, structural verticals and horizontals. The diagonals helped create an overlapping division, allowing the two other elements to exist on a similar plane without interfering with one another. The use of angles and measurements helped greatly with accuracy in the drawings, allowing me to achieve symmetry in the designs.

The Battery Conservationists’ logo is visually similar to the Red Angles when it comes to the angled ‘wing’ designs bordering the centrepiece. The curves in this design, however, are reserved for the battery symbol in the centre. This simplified shape, representing a battery, provides clues as to the nature of the team. Experimentation was done regarding the overall design of this logo, with changes to the background rectangle, the placement and size of the battery and the nature of the ‘wings’. In some designs, they leaned more towards a battle-axe look, while others were more geometrical and triangular. The curved ones were experimented with extensively, negative and positive space being pushed and pulled throughout the iterations. Positive and negative symbols, and value separation regarding them, were experimented with for the battery part of the designs. However, I decided not to include any other symbols on it, to avoid clutter.

Once I was happy with the sketched options, I moved into Photoshop in order to create the finished logos. Research into colour combinations and harmonies was also done to ensure a visually pleasing final result.

After I was happy with the design of the logos, I moved onto the HUD designs. Continuing the theme of angular shapes, creating rough layouts of the overall HUD as well as the various elements within. The main shape language stemmed from a modified trapezium shape. To help create a border between the information within the HUD and the game world, I created thin borders around the main space of the shapes. Past that, I experimented with bevels and other borders of different values, ensuring that the HUD was visible while against a variety of backgrounds.

I planned for the top bar to display health or electrical charge, whilst the bottom displays would contain speedometers and track maps/mini-maps, as well as other information. For the electrical charge bar and speedometer, I was going in the direction of digital display with a bar that fills up, changing colour as it reaches a different amount of charge or speed. Multiple iterations were created of these various elements, as well as the overall shape language.

Experimentation was also conducted to find other ways to display the electrical charge, such as an overlay. This overlay, visually similar to that of a fighter pilots, would serve to display information that was not built into the car, but rather added as modifications for racing and are able to be updated for various situations. Instead of using it to display electrical charge, which I decided the top bar would do, I instead used it as a targeting overlay. I also used it as a way to show the player their lap number and position. To make sure that this stood out from the rest of the HUD, I flipped and altered the orientation of the shapes that housed the elements in the HUD, arranging them onto the sides of the top bar. To tie the targeting overlay in with the theme of electric concept cars, I researched the electrical symbol used for batteries and create multiple iterations of the targeting overlay based on that. I settled on a design direction that incorporated a series of lines of varying lengths, bordered by strong verticals with a diamond shape in the centre, contrasted by a circle within.

I needed to add more visual interest to the HUD, so I decided to make use of the thin borders around the various elements that I had designed to incorporate LED-like lights, neon in nature and broken up by thin lines to create a series of segments. With the direction leaning towards high contrast and futuristic digital displays, I re-worked the speedometer to include a more traditional approach, edited to create a more futuristic look. I used the visual language of the modified trapezium as a basis to create a speedometer, adding in repeating lines to represent the different speeds and placement of numbers. To further mimic real life speedometers, I included a needle. However, this needle exists separate from its elongated base, it is a digital representation that moves independently from it.

I experimented with different iterations for the needle, trying out thick and thin variations with different proportions. Alongside these iterations, I tried out different value combinations for the speedometer, seeing how the digital representations of the needle and lines would create patterns of light and dark. The digital shapes would cast off a slight glow, illuminating themselves on the dark background.

Design Sheets:

design-sheet-1design-sheet-2design-sheet-3

 

Digital Development and Poster Evaluation

I decided to go for a more graphic approach for my poster designs, making use of silhouettes of iconic London architecture and strong value relationships. The introduction of colour later on using various colour schemes and harmonies adds an extra layer of depth and intrigue to the images.

After multiple development and ideation sketches in my sketchbook I moved into the digital medium to start creating the silhouettes for my posters. I gathered reference images that were front on for the most part to make the silhouette creation process easier.

I initially tried to create the silhouettes with a combination of basic shapes such as squares, triangles and rectangles but that proved to be difficult to manage in regards to layers and overlapping. I then tried to use the pen tool aided by rulers to trace the outlines of the buildings. Once the major silhouette had been created, I then worked on the inner complexity of some of the buildings. I manipulated various basic shapes to create the inner details and used circles to cut into the silhouettes themselves. The way I achieved this was via a technique we were taught earlier in the year where a shape on a layer above another shape is grouped with the lower one. You then navigate to the pathfinder tool and choose the Minus-Front option to cut into the lower shape on the layer stack.

This preparation allowed me to quickly ideate, thumbnail and create layouts and designs quickly and efficiently through the use of modular elements. My direction being graphic and bold for these poster designs, I decided to juxtapose the strong verticals and horizontals of the buildings with circular elements to create higher contrast, not only in value and colour but in shape as well.

Some of the silhouettes were scrapped early for being confusing or not working with my desired composition, two of these were the London Bridge and Cathedral/Abbey silhouettes.

Using the layer stack and overlapping, I situated the main circle behind the front silhouettes of the buildings to create depth and take advantage of relative colour, value and contrast. Having the front silhouette dark, the circle bright and the background a mid tone forces the viewer to look at the area where the silhouette and circle overlap, captivating the viewer. Once their attention has been held, they are free to look around the rest of the poster and are guided by the verticals and diagonals towards the heading ‘London Festival of Architecture’ and logo.

The logo itself is quite bright and saturated, this means that it easily distracts from the rest of the poster if proper value and colour harmony, as well as compositional layout, is not achieved. To help combat the effect this logo has, I used value, colour and composition to help minimise its distracting qualities. For the silhouette based graphical designs I experimented with placement and size, eventually settling on a small logo in one of the far corners and payed close attention to visual balance and weight so as not to tip the image to favour one side.

To help move the eyes of the viewer around and show them what I intend to show, I made use of various compositional rules such as the rule of thirds, leading/directional lines, implied lines, the golden spiral, and value, colour and shape contrast.

As I progressed, I tried out different combinations of silhouettes and shapes to see if multiple silhouettes could work in the same composition together. Ultimately it proved to be confusing, too busy and would require a large amount of value separation to bring clarity to the image. I also experimented with the placement of the logo, attempting to place it into the negative space of the silhouettes and onto the silhouettes themselves. This proved to be visually uncomfortable and moved quickly away from this approach.

I used several architectural landmarks from London to form the basis of my designs and used abstracted silhouettes to communicate my message. The triangle, being the most abstract and least direct, represents the Shard while the others are more obvious in regards to their intended real life counterparts. For the Shard posters I directed the viewer’s gaze throughout the poster with the use of directional lines and pointing in regards to the way the triangles aim and guide the eye towards the intended focal point.

I experimented with the placement and value of the text quite a bit, trying to find a good hierarchy and balance without making the text disappear or overpower the image. For the most part the visual hierarchy was established through value and composition, as well as sizing and proportion. The silhouettes were used to capture the viewer’s attention with their high contrast and juxtaposition and they are then directed towards the text that makes use of bright white and dark black to show what is important and what is not immediately of importance to view. This is supplemented by the text size, with the large white text of ‘London Festival of Architecture’ overpowering the small ‘1st – 30th June 2017’ text below it. The viewer will also note the smaller logo in the corner but not linger long on it, it being away from the rest of the more interesting visual stimuli and being harsh on the eyes with its bright saturated colours. A way that I minimised the intensity of the logo was by making the background around it both light and similar in colour, as to distract from it by lowering the contrast.

Keeping the main visual elements and the value transitions on the rule of thirds help push forward the focal point and detract from the less important logo that lies in the corner of the image.

After I had developed the first two posters, the graphical ones, I moved on the digital development of the perspective poster.

Information regarding the specific development of that layout can be found here: https://kcimgdryannothard.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/digital-development-of-architecture-poster-design-perspective/

This one proved to be more challenging and time consuming, required the meticulous manipulation of angle, grids and line weight to ensure a pleasing and balanced composition using black, white and pink as the only colour information. The process was sped up however once I had discovered the Perspective Tool in Illustrator, only after I had manually set up the grids for the tower. However, I still kept some of these initial grids and perspective lines in, editing them throughout to help aid the layout. Once I had everything blocked in, it was only a matter of refinement and polish before the poster was ready to be printed along with the other two.

While the first two graphical posters aimed for a more stylised, graphical and atmospheric approach to help evoke a mood and sense of time, the perspective layout was more of a nod to architects with the exposed perspective grid lines and technical line work, supplemented by the bold line weight to help push that depth created by the perspective. All three posters are designed to communicate the ‘London Festival of Architecture’, but each one adds a bit more nuance in their own unique ways. The Shard inspired one evokes a sense of time and nostalgia with its cool background and retro burning sun, aided by the graphic triangles the viewer is guided throughout the layout as if on a journey towards the main text; London Festival of Architecture.

For the Strata (The Razor) Tower poster I was more concerned with creating the feeling of power and solidity that is oh-so-important in architectural design. The strong verticals anchor the design in place, with the spreading diagonals sending the eyes towards the high contrast circle behind the main silhouette. The arc and sharp points at the top of the silhouette send the eyes up and into the text above, once read the viewer most likely returns to the high contrast silhouette, or perhaps is sent down towards the logo and date in the bottom left and right corners. The gradient from dark to light, as well as bluish-purple to warmer and softer pinks and yellows gives a sense of mood, the curvature of the earth and the feeling of a cool misty morning warmed by the suns first rays of light before the rest of the day begins.

As mentioned earlier, the more perspective heavy poster was in the direction of creating a dynamic feeling of structure and purpose, aiming to communicate the regal nature, solidity and power of the Elizabeth Tower through the use of line and perspective. It stretches and towers above and past the viewer, appearing to go on further, if not forever. The only colour in the image is from the logo, which has been repeated in two ways; the repetition of the logo itself and the main colour of the logo being used in the title, ‘London Festival of Architecture’. This creates powerful focal points, with the only areas of colour being bold, saturated and mainly on the middle and right of the page, it balances out the visual weight of the tower on the left hand side of the layout.

In comparison to the researched poster designs I analysed earlier in this assignment, I believe that I achieved good quality work. I was definitely inspired by both the contemporary and modernist way of creating bold a graphical designs using a few colours and values, aided by the placement of text and the use of font. The modernist poster I analysed helped to inspire the perspective orientated layout I did, using the grid lines in a similar way to help direct the viewer towards the focal point. That same poster also served to help with the creation of the more graphical posters, especially because of the simple to complex nature in regards to the construction of the shapes used in the head of the main subject matter. I found the interplay between dark and light text and background quite interesting in both the modernist and contemporary posters, with the inspiration of the graphical shapes stemming from the contemporary posters I researched as well.

I found that while the modernist layouts aimed for a more graphical approach to communicate the message in the least complicated yet most elegant way, the contemporary ones attempted to emulate this while adding a busier, abstract and more visually complex series of design choices. The modernist’s seemed to value graphical simplicity and clear messages above the wow factor of complexity that the contemporary’s displayed.

My work, especially the graphical designs of The Shard and The Strata (The Razor) Tower posters, aimed to create a sense of simplified elegance similar to that of the bold, silhouetted designs that the modernist posters communicated.