Jason Pook's Games Design Blog

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Creative Futures- “Adaptation”- Environment Drawings/Progress Design (2).

In Adaptation environment design sketches I have already tackled one to what I thought was a decent effort for reasons stated on that particular blog (arena gladiator first person view sketch). This time as stated I was going to draw the Coliseum from a birds eye view, the original idea was to do just the coliseum but as I progress I thought the picture looked bare so I added surroundings.

Original Arena

Here is the original drawing of the coliseum just the arena nothing else was around it, I used similar techniques to the last drawing such as the contour lines to show curvature of the circular arena, use of the white gel pen to show the light (source of light was bottom left this time) and then a new one I didn’t use last time of thick line/thin line which gave areas like the windows that added 3d effect for boldness. The drawing of this was fairly simple as collected research of the coliseum in the actual time period was good and gave me a easy grasp on how to go about drawing this. My favourite part of this is how well I used the gel pen to show light and the transition from exterior to interior by doing this.

This time I did take multiple pictures to show progress, mainly of the surroundings developing.


So here I have been building up the surrounding areas, I started with basic Drawing 101 primitive shapes like rectangles and cubes I even did a few circles (the fountain) and then some mashed up shapes like the statue I did in the bottom right multiple rectangles on top of each other slightly smaller to create a platform for the statue. I tried to use perspective where I could to create sort of streets in the image and some form of layout to the surround area, I felt I did this well in areas (bottom half of picture) but then struggled towards the top when I tried to enter the less rich area so smaller buildings. I was particularly pleased with my continued use of the shading for the buildings I feel I have really improved on that behalf throughout this year, the use of the gel pen again really worked fantastic for me. The statue I did I am so happy with I got the scale and the shading done really nicely even the shadow wasn’t exact to the shape of the statue but your mind could figure out where it was coming from.

Rome birds eye view.

Rome birds eye view.


This is the final product of the Rome birds eye view, as you can tell the top area of the picture I tried to develop as much as I could not to be a big wealthy area but possibly a smaller middle class area of Rome (I may have done this wrong as im unsure if the city was segregated), the scale I used throughout was nicely undertaken I believe as the coliseum is clearly the largest but other buildings of importance were also big. Shading was a thing I impressed myself with a lot from this, I wasn’t completely filling in areas like I used to I just shaded roughly which adds realism as it will never be perfectly shaded or covered little patches appear all the time so rough shading is so much better.

Things I like: The shading, the statue, the roman statues were always eccentric and over the top size wise to make the people who are in the statues like gods so they are worshiped by the people (like César) so I think I got the scale right with that as well as the shapes. The general layout of the city I did nicely I used perspective well to create roman style buildings.

Things I didn’t like: The top area of smaller buildings, i struggled to keep a layout to the top area not sure why but it just didn’t work for me in that area maybe it was too cluttered or I didn’t style it right. I tried to do a massive roman arch as an entry to the coliseum on the front in 3d but couldn’t grasp how to do it properly so I shaded it as a normal plain instead (this is a feature id like to bring in), the contextual relevance, yes I had the coliseum, roman housing, the pillared buildings and a statue etc. but I felt certain roman iconic things hadn’t been brought in e.g. aqueduct, beautiful gardens and more pillared structures.

I really enjoyed drawing this one but I think if I gathered a lot more research on the Ancient Rome (as accurate as possible) layout.

The next drawing will be a view from the crowd, where you will be sat as an arena master of the fight.


Creative Futures- “Adaptation”- Environment Drawings/Progress Design.

“Further advice on production is to initially to start out big think massive because all of your ideas will be eventually reduced and if you go with the first concept idea you have you are reducing into even less which the work will not be worth it. Im going to do a angled birds eye view of the arena and then 2 different perspectives of the arena master and then a gladiator to show different angles and shots of my environment.” Taken from my previous adaptation environment blog.

In planning and briefing for my product (initial blog, environment blog, character design) I came up with a series of bullet points to help me focus on what I was exactly trying to get across in my conceptual environment art for my adaptation game.

Things we have to consider in environments:

  • Genre- Horror genre will be dark, tense, jumpy and use semiotics to suggest something will or might happen to keep you on edge. Or for my Gladiator Top Down style game the genre is action/adventure so environments will vary from epic arenas to the basic chalked or sand marked arenas, using camera angles in shots to represent power/weakness etc.
  • Weather- Will my gladiators come across weather that affects their performance, such as rain could massively decrease friction and grip as well as vision, snow will for lesser gladiators or slaves cause cold lungs, vision loss and friction issues especially if it included ice. or finally out in a basic arena with not much wind blockage sand will be thrown around in battle decreasing dexterity and vision. But it also can bring advantages as your opponents may be the ones who slip first for you to pounce.
  • Atmosphere- No atmosphere should be able to rival the coliseum watching battle the majority of Rome watching to see men slaughtered all for entertainment, crowd could be used on my game to support or hinder depending on how the battle goes and how impressive your tactics are.
  • Cultural- How the crowd was brought to the gladiator games to distract them from famish and lack of resources maybe due to conflict with the Greeks or lost at sea.
  • Composition- how I choose in my concept art to lead people through the image, maybe have a view of the stairs up to the entry of the gladiators at the coliseum with pillars either side and guards waiting to give the viewer a belief that the gladiator is you. Or as my game will also rely on you being the arena master of your team of gladiators your point of view from the stands with the public using imagery from roman times such as thumbs up/down whilst you watch your team unfold maybe change tactics during. Perspective will be important for this.
  • History- How has it got to being a gladiator, the history behind the designs of the arenas or the coliseum, what may have affected the structure or damaged it over time. So research is vital for that as without historical accuracy the game will be less real and therefore less believable for the audience.
  • Not just surface- Maybe background events that are currently going on during the game that may alter performance or crowd mood as well as the emperors presence and the amount of guards needed in battle to stand by.

This was what I got down for what will alter your environment and how to make your environment believable and real. From this I tried my best to follow the bullets to help me in the sketching of the actual environments.

Arena Entrance to battle view.

Arena Entrance to battle view.

This is my first drawing for my adaptation environment. The idea with this drawing was to make the viewer feel like he/she was the gladiator going out into battle to potentially lose their life (first person view of the gladiator), this use of composition would further immerse you in the game to make you feel a lot more tense and possibly make a drastic mistake due to pressure. Although I have no drawn the crowd you can imagine the immense atmosphere when you walk into this, so in the game the crowd would be going wild roaring, living and breathing emotions throughout the battle (the crowd was a feature of mine which could alter the balance of the battle dependent on what happens). The guards and pillars/walls at the side are used to represent scale, no picture is perfect and especially when you put things in the way it can give you a idea (definitely in drawings) of how big or small the image behind the obstruction can be, in this case I used the guards in the way as your close they look bigger but then I did some small gladiator outlines already in the ring on a much smaller scale which shows the vastness of the coliseum.

Moving onto artistic techniques I used in the drawing. First of all I have already explained scale and how I used that but scale alone would not work without a multitude of other things behind it. Contour Lines I had to use in this image as the curvature of the arena was essential to me as I wanted it to be a dome and not a box, to apply these I did 8 curved lines (a couple to show separation in the stands) but each one was slightly curved either straighter (towards middle) curved in (towards top) or curved out (towards bottom) this for me was a really good effort as I can see the curvature of the arena quite well, it took a few rough outlines of each contour line to find the right one so I didn’t just draw the first one I did it was a elimination process. Also I did lines down the arena (actually light strips coming from the roof slits but still showed my point well) in angled directions to represent what was a seated stand and what was the separation between the levels, the steep gradient lines was the flat foundations for the stands and then the angled lines (varied a lot from angle of light and stand) was the seated areas for the roman crowd. I originally did that in pencil roughly a few times to work out how to do it then I used my white gel pen to go over the top as it was light source from the roof.

Then onto shading as it wouldn’t have been complete without some form of realistic shading, I used a white gel pen to show light in rough outlines as it was pure light blinding it would have had some form of shade or darkness factor. This white gel pen I have found a very useful utensil on my two-tone sketch book as it shows up light really well, this can be seen on the guard on the right with the light glimmers on his armour and spear. Other shading I used was just a normal HB pencil for the medium shading as the paper itself could be used as a neutral shade being brown, then a black Faber-castell crayon to do really dark areas such as below the roof near the top or slightly under the armour plating on one of the guards. No particular technique of shading was used just general colouring in sort of zigzag shading as im yet to get used to shading like cross hatching etc.

Things I like, so my favourite parts of this picture I have done are: the guards blocking the view, the guards have really been well proportioned by me they are sort of rough outlines with added shading but the fact you can tell they are guards with no facial features (view from back) just a bit of armour/helmet and a spear really pleases me. The shape/curvature of the arena, I found this difficult as I drew multiple rough lines before more solidly drawing a line but the final product I was pleased with.

Things I didn’t like, so minor problems I didn’t like were: the level of detail to the arena, no crowd and no sort of roman presence maybe if I had done that centre archway better I could have done a decent statue of a horse on top. The roof, not sure what it is about it but I don’t think it looks right it might be my perspective or opinion but maybe the gradient angle of it isn’t right as its supposed to be arching over the arena , im not sure but I will ask opinions on it to help me work it out.

The next step for this would be to draw it again to try and build on what I have already got, then possibly do a digital image in Photoshop. Although I do have a coliseum being built in Sketch Up by myself currently which I could animate to show a fully immersive coliseum. Next time ill be sure to take multiple pictures or scan it in at multiple stages to show progress better and explain added features and decisions throughout (im not sure why I didn’t think of that before).

The next drawing will be a birds eye view of the coliseum. Please comment what you think on my image to help me improve my skills further in drawing.

Also have a look at my online presence for other blog posts and my work.

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Drawing 101- Life Drawing (16/10/13)

In the latest instalment of Drawing 101 we was left purely to our own skills and techniques to do a life drawing of multiple items in the room. I chose to draw the mannequin and the art canvas stand to begin with. Whilst drawing this I had to use my previous taught drawing 101 lessons and then my own drawing skills. So once I had drawn some guidelines and boxes for the basis of my mannequin I drew the curves in rough over and over to find the line I felt I needed which was then firmly outlined. The shape of my mannequin I was very pleased with so then I added some skills from the last lesson of drawing 101 which was contour lines, this made the breast of the mannequin stand out much better and it also clearly defined the waist. During this drawing I could tell how much I had come on in just 3 weeks with these lessons and it spurred me on to keep practicing as clearly it was improving my drawing. I moved onto the art canvas stand, this I felt in particular the shading I did very well as there was multiple light sources so it wasn’t as easy as I originally thought to properly show the shading. The only problem I came across with the stand was the base I felt after I had drawn it I should have done it in perspective instead of just self presumption.

mannequin and canvas stand

mannequin and canvas stand

Then once I felt I had spent enough time and practice on the life drawing of the mannequin and canvas stand, I moved on to doing some quick 2minute sketches on some students who were also drawing chosen models, this was a harder test of my art skills as the time set was limited and some people was sat in different positions so contour lines was used on the faces to properly position the facial features and then pure judgement was used on the rest. I did 3 people in 6minutes and was pleased with my quick sketches, yes there was problems with certain elements as true detail was unable to be added to the face which is the defining feature of a person but for a quick sketch I felt my sketches were fairly accurate.

quick drawing people

quick drawing people

Finally I went back to basics with one thing I was taught in early years of doing art at school which was drawing and bottle and shading it. But this time I used contour lines to define the shape on the Pepsi bottle and also thick line/thin line to show the outline. Pencil pressure was key when drawing this as it was a see through bottle with embossed logo in the bottle so this was a challenge I felt I did well, I times it as well and it took 12minutes so wasn’t very fast but detail had been added and care taken in shading and 3d.

Pepsi bottle

Pepsi bottle

Overall I was very pleased with my art in this lesson and the progress I have made in these drawing 101 lessons was truly evident to me. This was shown particularly with the use of techniques I had been taught in previous lessons.


Drawing 101- Lesson 1- 3/10/13

As our first lesson in Drawing 101 we was all took back to the very basics of drawing from doing simple 3d shapes to then shading those shapes by entering a light source on the page. We started by watching a video from a famous designer called Saul Bass who was giving advice to design students.

“Learn to draw, if you don’t you will live your life getting around that.” – Saul Bass

This was the key quotation I took from this video which really hit me as drawing is something I do but never did avidly it wasn’t a primary thing for me it was just a thing on the side I enjoyed from time to time.

My tutor then introduced me to the idea of pareidolia, this is the idea that you see faces and things in other items or unusual ways for example: you may see a cloud that looks like a car, or a patterned wallpaper you can see a face in etc. This I found particularly interesting as it made me think that art and design is all around us, we just need to have the vision to see something and think yes this would be artist or a good game.

Then came the actual drawing, we was asked to draw basic 3D objects on our sketch pads so a Cube, Sphere, Cylinder, Cone and a Taurus. once we had done this we had to apply shading to the objects using a light source we place on the page.

basic shapes with shading

basic shapes with shading

Another thing on this page was the idea of we need to see the page not as a 2d flat page, we need to see it as a 3d plain so we can draw better in 3d. Apparently this will be hard to get used to but the progress in drawing 101 lessons will be apparent. Also we had a go at cutting segments out of shapes so I cut a segment out of a sphere to make it look more 3d.

Then for homework we was asked to do the same using different drawing utensils maybe some we are not used to drawing in just to take us out of our comfort zone. So doing this was going to be a test of where I currently was in drawing skills.

Homework Shapes

This is my finished product I used a central light source to test my skills at shadow angles and darkness’s, I also used pencil, pen and fine liner to draw the objects which all gave different effects to the shading of the shapes. As we was told not to use the rubber as mistakes are things to be learnt from I noticed that I am better at cones with shading than I am with the rest. But overall I was pleased with my basic 3d shapes and shading but I will keep practising them as the basics of drawing are the fundamentals to build on.

So the main thing I learn from that video and the lesson was I need to practice my drawings even just a little time a day and I will improve, drawing is a fantastic way of showing your ideas to clients that may be interested in your work and that is why I must learn to improve my drawing skills.