Posts Tagged With: concept art

World Building

city concept 3    DSC01001

World building is something that I’ve been fascinated with for years. From game design to creative writing it is quite literally the building blocks of all fantasy and fictional worlds. Between my film and illustration projects I will be exploring the idea of world building as I see it, from research to concept; map design, characters, location and inspiration to name but a few. Although I am essentially an artist and set designer I have an interest in writing and all forms of narrative such as game design. There will be posts that focus on all types of world building as well as visual inspiration.

Oni Demon internet     DSC00299

So whether you’re a concept artist, writer or budding production designer you should find something that suits all narrative research. It’s worth following the blog and also looking back over my MA work as there are many relevant entries about science fiction film and set design.

Categories: General research, World building | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Books Versus Film and My Final Project (The Tube Riders)

As a separate part of my project review I wanted to not only share a handful of the designs from my novel to film project with the wider world but look at the book versus film scenario.

We’ve all heard the phrase “yes I saw the film but I preferred the book”. I see these comments posted regularly on social networks, but why is that?  As readers we have a personal experience when we read a book. The author will guide us and entice us with their own vision, but that doesn’t mean we all see the characters or locations in exactly the same way as another reader or even the author. Novels allow us to get inside a characters head whereas  film, by comparison,  can be more selective. It’s probably because we spend so much time with these fictional people. A book can take anything from a day or two to several months to read depending on the reader compared to a film which is normally set around 2 hours.

Perhaps it’s unfair to compare the two given the time constraints for film makers to produce a believable world. All we can do is to strive for the very best rendition we can, using the best technology, scripts, actors, talent available. Some film versions are better than others for this reason. In many cases some novels are just more adaptable.

My own opinion is that films and books should be treated as two separate  experiences, after all, there are a lot of people who don’t read. Films allow a window into an author’s mind albeit for a few hours and makes a story accessible to all.

What’s important is a good story and a set of characters that an audience can relate to.

For this reason I chose The Tube Riders by Chris Ward. Immediately I was drawn into the world from the first page. There was a great blend of character insight and world building without being too caught up in unnecessary verbal clutter. It also had the right pacing for a film and fell into the science fiction/horror/dystopian genre that is currently popular in both film and TV. Given the time constraints of the project I concentrated on a couple of settings and also worked on some visuals as future guidance for VFX. Working without the normal set up of director/art department/producer I had to make my own decisions through discussions with my tutor. I also used some artistic license as there was no screenplay to work from.

The purpose of this post is to firstly share my work, maybe get some opinions or comments and secondly to hear from those who have read books and seen them transformed into films. What are your experiences negative or positive? Feel free to comment below and let me know what you think about the designs or the subject matter.

tube riders visuals

Below are some photos of scale models for the Medical Research Centre reception area and arena.



arena render 4


The book can be found at:-


Categories: General research, MA Practical Project, MA project | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Reflection on Skills and The Future 1

Part of the MA process was to gain knowledge and skills through the realisation of a practical project. Because of this I thought that I’d take stock of what I’ve learnt so far and understand where I am heading in terms of the next 6 months particularly in regards to skills and software.

The practical work allowed me to transform some of my existing skills with the use of software, introducing me to a more digital design approach.

My original plan was to learn several programs that were industry standard but given the time scales and the vast amount of knowledge I had to catch up on I had to focus on one or two. The obvious choice was Photoshop and digital painting. Photoshop is an industry standard software; every design company uses it from graphic design through to game design. It is also used in conjunction with so many other 2D and 3D applications. Photoshop allowed me a stepping stone into digital design. It also worked well with my more traditional drawing skills. As I had spent  years painting canvases and using a similar layering technique with paint and collage papers, switching the style to digital layers made a lot of sense, especially when I could create similar effects using photography textures and semi transparent digital washes like watercolour paints.

This is an example of a canvas that I did and a Photoshop collage banner to compare.

into the woods sml    banner a

What makes Photoshop so good is that you can save it in various stages of completion, use them again or alter colours, do different versions of the same image etc. It allows you to erase mistakes easily compared with traditional painting, especially watercolour. It’s also much faster when having to work to deadlines. To fully utilise Photoshop’s abilities in film and TV design I need to combine it with other software such as Illustrator, Maya, Z brush etc.

Currently I feel there are 2 possible routes into the art department, Concept art and model making. At the moment I feel that concept art is probably my strength  so I will now look in detail at the job specifics and types of software used at the pre-viz stage. I will also look at the gaming industry and character design and see where I need to improve in regards to skills.




Categories: MA project, Reflection and future | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Concepts and Visuals for Reception Design and CGI Extension

The space beyond the walkway in the reception build is purely CGI work due to height restrictions. Here the set theoretically stretches several floors above. For my project I wanted this area to be a narrow tube like space with light emanating from above that also appears to light up a section of the floor below. It needed to follow on from the set below. This is important for the overall look of the set and ultimately the whole film. CGI needs to fit with the design of the space that the actors inhabit, the directors vision and work with the script. The production designer’s role is to ensure that all this happens and this starts very early in the pre production stage with pre-viz meetings between companies such as Double Negative and Framestore and the designer/directors etc (as researched in earlier posts).

At this stage research is completed, visuals developed, CGI and VFX are discussed and models, concepts, technical drawings are developed.  Locations are also sourced. The reception area of my design was to be my main build and incorporate CGI into the design. For this reason I needed to know how the green screen would allow the set to be extended and what I wanted the extension to look like to ensure that the continuity of the design was not compromised. This would follow through to all sets, particularly those that use CGI mattes and effects.

I have worked through potential ideas and come up with a set of visual/concept guidelines for this reason.

Below, a drawing and colour version of the main set build showing the colour, lighting and space where the set would be extended above the walkway.

concept rec contrast

rec concept last stage 2

Below are a set of visuals and a concept painting for the CGI extension as a design guideline–walls, windows, doors in image 1 and ceiling in image 2. Image 3 is the concept showing the levels, lighting and walkways.

cgi visual 1c

cgi ceiling labeled

concept cgi final

Concepts are to 1:1.85 ratio




Categories: MA Practical Project, MA project, Post Production, sketchbook and visual diary, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Arena: Details and renders 2

I have used a combination of techniques for the renders starting with the hand drawn sketches then digitally painting the colours and render textures. I have gone for metallic surfaces that are rusted with brushed and stained metal for some contrast. Alongside these textures there will be stone walls. The arena is set deep within the medical research centre into the bedrock and will be dimly lit. I am planning to experiment with some lighting scenarios as part of the final concept paintings.  The arena space is in complete contrast to the main complex being more run down and rough. The book often describes many of the settings and props as being medieval in influence even though it is set in the future. Working with a variety of textures, influences and architecture provides some great challenges in terms of research and design. Although every set is different they all need to connect to create a coherent overall design. This is part of the Production Designer’s job throughout, from pre-production to post-production regardless of whether CGI is used or not. I will look at how CGI/VFX will be used in the arena space. It’s likely that if anything is needed, it will be subtle, if at all.

door render e 2

The surround of the doorway is rusted. Both sides of the door will be the same  apart from a warning sign on the exterior side.

lights 2 render

Light design (hanging). This will also be replicated for a wall light. (Rusted metal texture on the main casing.)


rail render 3b

Railings continue the rusted metal theme throughout with steel coloured handrail sections.

Categories: MA Practical Project, MA project, sketchbook and visual diary | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Production Design: The concept or visual

Concept drawings are impressions of the set, often starting out as simple pencil drawings and becoming full colour renders that encapsulate the look of the film (LoBRUTTO, V., 2002). These can take on many forms from rough sketches to paintings with many being produced using computer software like Sketch Up or Vectorworks. The concept or visual is also used as a tool to show the set or character with possible colour schemes and overall mood of the scene ( BARNWELL, J., 2004). I have always had a fascination with the concept and while researching my project I have come across so many different styles. The following images are taken from various dystopian/post apocalyptic films and TV shows. Here they show how the concept creates the atmosphere and gives an overall impression of setting, props, lighting and colour.



Above: A visual concept from The Road found at[sourced on 5/3/14]


Walking Dead 9.jpg-large

Walking Dead 8.jpg-large

Visuals from The Walking Dead found at [sourced on 5/3/14]



Visuals from The Children of Men by Peter Popken found at [sourced on 5/3/14]


Visuals:- [sourced on 5/3/14] [sourced on 5/3/14] [sourced on 5/3/14]


Books:- LoBRUTTO, V., 2002. The Filmmakers Guide to Production Design. New York: Allworth press

BARNWELL, J., 2004. Production Design: Architects of the Screen. New York: Wallflower



Categories: dystopian film and designers, post-apocalyptic film and design, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thinking About The Future: London Concepts

I will also be looking at the city of London itself alongside designing interiors; how it might change over the next 50 years and producing concepts that could influence the post production side of design. I think it’s important for the Production Designer to have a good idea of how the world will look down to the smallest detail, even if some of the design jobs are done by other departments. The production designer oversees the overall look of the film.

As part of my location scouting day I also took photos with this in mind, so thinking of potential visuals that would probably be developed as CGI rather than built. One is a future Canary Wharf. I took this photo with the goal of adapting it. The visual is an early stage concept so there is still a lot to do to the foreground and some buildings to add in the distance, but just by adding some colour filters and sky detail, I can see what is possible.



composite a

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The Tube Riders: Corridor concept 2

I’ve had a play around with some more renders and colour filters for the corridor as I’m still learning. I felt the other concept wasn’t quite there in regards to detail. There needed to be more detail in the foreground even though the lighting is more subdued and shadowed. It also needed to be sharper because it’s meant to be a clinical space and the slight airbrushed look of previous attempts looked too washed out for the foreground.

My Photoshop  is a basic one so there maybe other options for future renders in a better Photoshop version. For now it does the job. I want to work on improving the lighting and making it more atmospheric. I’ve added a few notes on materials and textures, but will add to this later when I start looking at materials for the entire complex.

anoted render1

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The Tube Riders: Corridor concept

Taking some of the details from my sketchbook I’ve had a go at piecing together a concept for the medical research centre corridor. Starting out in sketch up with a really basic structure, I built up layers of colour, shine on the floor and some basic lighting. I’m not sure whether this is entirely finished as there are a few problem areas to iron out, but it gives a guide to what the mood lighting will be and a rough size. I may add a figure in at a later stage.

Below: From Sketch Up to Photoshop/digital painting.

cropcorridor abc

corridor abc

cor filters1 and lights

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The Tube Riders Sketchbook: Horror mood boards and ideas

Another selection of concept designs will feature the Huntsmen characters. This is the horror element of the story and they provide various possibilities due to the fact that no Huntsmen needs to be exactly the same. They all have some similar features described in the book such as a dog/wolf like snout, protruding wires, scars, cyborg elements etc. but they can be varied. There are the older models as well as new improved Huntsmen featured throughout the book. In addition to this there are the experimental Huntsmen that were part finished. I will work on a few variations in the sketchbook but settle on one final coloured image that conceptualises the overall look for possible model/mock-up.

horror mood 1

horror mood 2

Above: Two mood boards showing colour inspiration and details that could be used.

Reference for visuals:-

Below: Some early sketch/collage experiments.

horror pic 1

face adapt 3

Above image is a digitally enhanced version of the sketchbook, with some added colour, blending of skin tones etc. This is one idea for the head and face area.

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