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Attack The Block – Steps To Better Level Design

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Video game world building is an increasingly complex process – one that demands designers think big before fashioning the fine detail that will ultimately enable the creation of truly immersive and interactive levels. Seasoned Naughty Dog environment artist and CGMA mentor Andres Rodriguez discusses the blocking process and explains how to get the most from this vital step in the environment creation process.

“Creating a good blockmesh is one of the most important pillars of creating a compelling and effective level, because it allows for quick iteration of the environment. Composition is one of the many elements that really benefit from iteration and fine tuning. When looking at a 3D world it’s important to move through the space and check the framing that we are creating for the viewer as they explore the environment. This will allow you to use composition as a tool that can help you accentuate important features, such as the right path for the player, areas of particular interest, or key shots for story exposition. Creating a good blockmesh is not only good for artistic reasons, but also to quickly test if the shapes and visual language translate effectively into clear gameplay. When creating game levels it is important to create a level that is aesthetically pleasing but never at the expense of gameplay clarity or at the risk of confusing the player.”

“A good level blockout won’t just have aesthetic considerations, but will also be mindful of gameplay. If the player needs to tackle a puzzle, all the elements needed to solve the challenge must be presented in a clear and elegant way. This also applies for when trying to differentiate the main path, from optional routes, or when trying to deter the player from going somewhere they are not supposed to. Framing paths, clearing up areas or adding high contrast will make areas much more inviting for the player, allowing us to control their flow through the level. Another thing to keep is mind is the difference between combat and non-combat scenarios. When the player is entering a combat space it imperative that they understand how to interact with the level in front of them, like which pieces are covered and which are not. This means being extra careful when highlighting entrances, exits, cover points, different elevation platforms throughout the level, and so on.”


“Blocking in environments is one of the first steps in creating a level. This is usually made by a designer, who is creating a space that helps them achieve the gameplay goal. This could involve creating a nice lead-up to a bridge the player needs to cross, for example. After that it’s up to the artist to take the level and convert that block mesh into something that works both aesthetically and in service of the gameplay. A lot of times this will involve a lot of edits and changes to the original designer-created blockmesh. This is why it is very important to have a close communication between artist and designer, enabling compromises to be made between both of the visions for the level. This process will generally require a good amount of iteration, but it’s key to develop an effective level, and to try to catch big flaws early. Lighting also plays a huge role in the final look of the level and how the shapes we are creating will read in the environment. For this reason it’s often recommended to add some rough lighting as early in the process as possible and to keep that in mind when moving forward with the level. This will allow the artist and designer to create contrast in sections, and also carve out areas of light and dark, using that as another element with which to direct the player throughout the level.”

Check out Andres Rodriguez’s “Introduction to Environment Art” course here. Too see the full roster of Environment Art courses we have to offer, click here.

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A World of Inpiration

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Mark Twain famously claimed that ‘all ideas are second-hand, consciously or unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources’. Or as Steve Jobs simply noted, ‘creativity
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16 Things You Didn’t Know About Three of the World’s Greatest Artists

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It’s no secret that many fine artists aren’t like most people as they’re endowed with exceptional creativity. However, you may not be aware that some of the world’s most celebrated painters are even more eccentric that you thought they were. Here are 16 fun facts about three of the world’s most famous artists.

1. Leonardo da Vinci


• Leonardo da Vinci’s was a “love child” whose parents never tied the knot. Until the age of five, he lived with his mom, but then later moved in with his dad, who had married a woman who wasn’t his mother.
• As an avid animal rights activist, this Italian artist often bought caged birds only to set them free.
• He was probably one of the first home-schooled kids as he had no formal education but was taught at home in the basic subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic.
• He was a slow painter, leaving behind less than 30 paintings with several of them incomplete. Furthermore, at his death, he left many sketches, drawings and notes.
• Da Vince, along with some male companions, was arrested for sodomy charges when he was 24 years old.

2. Vincent Van Gough


• Van Gough wanted to be a pastor just as his father was, but his progressive religious views conflicted with those of the Dutch Reformed Church in the late 19th century. In fact, he spent time working as missionary, and many of his works depict Biblical themes.
• If you’re a late-blooming artist who never took an art lesson, take heart. Van Gough didn’t start painting until age 27. As a self-taught artist, he began his art career by painting peasants.
• Unlike Leonardo da Vince, Van Gough worked quickly. It only took him ten years to produce about 900 paintings.
• He struggled with depression, and his most celebrated painting, Starry Night, was done while being treated in a mental hospital in France. Today, it’s on display at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
• Tragically, he didn’t realize he would be recognized as one of the world’s greatest artists because he had only sold just one painting during his lifetime.

3. Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn


• This famous Dutch painter, whose full name was Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn, was known by his first name, Rembrandt, rather than his surname.
• He had a strong faith, which was seen in his artwork.
• Rembrandt and his wife had ten children.
• It’s believed that he struggled with an eye condition known as “stereo blindness”, meaning that he saw everything flat, which can actually be beneficial if you’re an artist.
• He became bankrupt in 1656 and was so broke that he was forced to sell the grave of his wife.

Would you like to learn more about opportunities as an artist? If so, check out CG Master Academy, an online computer arts (2D and 3D) academy. Please contact us and let us show you how you can grow in your art career.

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