Check out the video for the 4th episode of 10 for the Artists below, as well as the transcript!
FS – Forrest Stephan
OA – Omar Aweidah
FS – Greetings Citizens! Welcome to another episode of 10 for the Artists. We’d like to thank the subscribers out there for making this possible, couldn’t do it without ya. To my left is Omar, concept artist, and my name is Forrest, CG supervisor. And, we got some questions from you guys so we’re gonna try our very best to answer them.
OA – Let’s get to it.
FS – Alright, first question:
Are rejected concept ships or art ever held in a vault for possible future use? If there is no official one, do artists tend to hold onto a few of those on a personal basis?
FS – We’ve never had a rejected concept art have we? You’ve never had to redo anything have you?
OA – All the time.
FS – What happens?
OA – At least a few times a day.
FS – You ever had to completely redo something? Where they’re just no, completely rejected.
OA – Yes. All the time.
FS – And what do you do. Do you take any of that? Do you have a vault at your desk with a combination?
OA – Okay. So, we’ll break it down, cause it really depends on who’s leading that concept, who’s designing that… as a concept artist you’re trying to develop someone else’s vision. So, occasionally – the best way to do it is, you make a concept, you go through your first pass, they say ‘Okay, this looks good, change a little bit here, change a little bit there,’ everything goes smoothly, and everyone’s happy, and then during your deadline, you meet your deadline, and it’s cool. Sometimes, you do a concept, and maybe you get a little cheeky, you want to get creative, so you kinda throw something out from left field, and it could be like, I kinda like it, but I need you to integrate it a little more, or it can be the worst which is… this is not what I’m thinking at all, redo it.
So, those concepts usually aren’t put into a vault. Some things that are put into a vault, and I can speak on this for like assets, helmets and things like that is, lets say I create something and it’s a little bit weird, it’s a little bit too sci-fi, they want something more industrial and not as sleek, you might take that concept and say, hey, it kinda looks like it fits over here more, so when we get to this, when we have to do this task, then here’s something that we kinda like the feel, then you might be able to start with, or something you might be able to fit Kruger and RSI and then you’d be like, okay well that’s more RSI, lets just put it and hold it.
FS – Yeah, I don’t think in general we ever have to keep it in a vault as much as really look at the concept and figure out, okay, where does this actually fit in the world. Obviously it’s not always going to be perfect the first time around, but now that we actually have these manufacturers, and we’ve finally been able to put Chris Roberts’ kind of visual standards onto the screen, we have a better and better idea of what each concept gears towards as far as the manufacturers, so you know, and the styles, and the look of the game, so it’s…
I don’t say we ever really throw anything away, I feel like for every concept piece, even if it’s not 100% correct, there’s elements that we can take for it, even if you needed to take that element and put it towards another concept for another manufacturer.
OA – And even if it’s like geometry-based, you can always go in and just rip one thing like, I really like the thruster, but the whole rest of the ship is awful, and you just rip it out. But with ships though, I think with assets it’s easier, but with ships they’re really deliberate from the get-go, so very rarely when we start a ship do we finish and say oh, it doesn’t match, we’ll throw it away. That ship is designed to fit a certain thing, and there’re so many stages that it really can’t get off-track so much to the point where there’s a finished product that people aren’t happy with.
FS – Yeah that’s exactly… it wouldn’t be rejecting concepts for ships, it’s evolving the concept for ships.
OA – That’s nice…
FS – Not bad huh? So you know, you’ve got Chris Roberts, you’ve got designers, you have concept artists, you have a slew of people that’re reviewing these concept arts, and from the very get-go we’re making sure that it works in every aspect that’s required for the game and meeting the visual consistencies that we need for the universe so, it just keeps evolving until finally it’s something that we’re ready to… we feel like it’s something for Star Citizen.
Alright, hope that answers your question Swordfish… Lspear…
OA – Wait, do you want to switch off, or do you just want to… how do you want to do this. Want to rap?
FS – I’ll do two then you do two. Alright, we have Storm.
When making various parts of the game, how do you stay motivated on things that are normally rather dull? Are these items / things viewed as ‘characters’?
FS – Well, don’t make it dull. If it’s dull, then make it cooler.
OA – Some things are dull… some things you just have to… they just have to be done. Like…
FS – Yeah, there are things that’re boring. I tasked Omar yesterday with doing a shadow proxy for a helmet.
OA – Yeah, that was boring. But to stay motivated… money’s a good motivator. But other than that… Most of the time, you were right though. You try to make it cool.
FS – Make it cool. I mean, this is a sci-fi game. You can be creative about everything, whether it’s a coffee pot in your apartment, in your space… condo, or it’s, I’ve seen super cool things. You saw in the Gamescom demo that intro, that kinda room that they started in, and you’ve got the cool light post, cool lighting, cool coffee stuff, cool little PDA, so you can really… I think no matter what it is, the fact that it’s sci-fi you can kinda make it interesting.
OA – Yeah, if you’re really intelligent and think about it, you can make a sci-fi cup that’s really cool. You can do anything. But I think more with the art side, our job’s really aren’t that… like, we sometimes do tedious stuff, but really not that much.
FS – No, not usually.
OA – Like, usually it’s like, I need to make a light, I’m gonna make the sickest light ever, it’s gonna be here, and everyone’s like this is the dopest light I’ve ever seen. And then we’re all cheering and jumping up and down in the office.
FS – Yup. That’s right. That’s exactly what happens.
Ooh, just got dark in here.
Will the OEM paint on a ship when you first buy it look new or battered. For example the Taurus, although a industrial ship, has marks and scratches all over the interior and exterior. We are buying a new ship right?
FS – You are buying a new ship. You’re absolutely right. In the game world, the way that the shaders are set up and the textures are being ported too is that when you purchase the ship, it will be pristine. Just like purchasing a new car. You drive it off the lot, it’s brand new. As soon as it gets off the lot, it’s never really brand new again, you know your value goes down. And then we start factoring in the code that will kind of procedurally blend in the wear over time. It’ll kinda be like a Grand Theft Auto type of thing, I think we’re taking your space garage and get it cleaned up and washed and detailed I guess…
So, these are new systems that we’ve been working on and coming online. A lot of the earlier ships were just get it in there, lets see how it works, how it looks like – wear it up a little bit – but now we’re starting to backtrack, and you’ll notice that the newer ships like the Retaliator and whatnot, has much cleaner materials, and then we’re going to figure out how we’re going to start blending in that wear because that is something that we definitely want to do.
OA – Yeah, we’re still early on in that technology, but we kinda know how we want to do it. We pretty much know how to do it, and then a lot of it is retrofitting and stuff like that. Also, I think for industrial ships, they’re never… they’ll come with a little bit of wear probably, like you normally would if you’re making on an industrial scale, but it’ll never get cleaner than when you buy it.
FS – Absolutely. For sure. But even the clothing, like we’re messing with jeans and stuff. So even the PU clothing is going to wear over time. Jeans start getting faded, start getting dirt on the bottom of your pants, which is kinda cool. So the whole system around all the items in the game and the ships, and the characters, are going to have some kind of wearing and be pristine when you purchase it, and that’s cool, cause you sell it, it’s used, it looks kinda dirty…
OA – That’ll probably be the first demonstration for people to see would probably be the clothing, because it’s simpler for us to kind of start off fresh with, like a fresh shirt, and do all the tests we need to do. Cause ships, obviously we go as in depth as we possibly can, and that would take definitely a lot of work. Yup, that’s what you’ll see first.
Can we see more concept art of ships that haven’t been seen in a while ie merchantman, caterpillar?
FS – Well, I think that in general what you’ll find is we will do the original concept. It’ll be some really quick interior shots, but mostly we concentrate on the outside of the ship, and that’s usually during the concept sale. And then later down the road, then we start blocking out the interior, we start working really close with the design, making sure that you can get from the front to the back, you can get into your chair, exit your chair, turn, stuff like that, so heavy design goes in the interior, so I’d imagine that when you see follow-up concepts from concepts you haven’t seen in a while, you will find that you’ll see some new interior shots. I think we’re going to have some Vanguard interior teases pretty soon that our concept artist Gurmukh did, which are pretty sweet.
OA – Yeah, probably see those sooner than anything else. We pretty much plan when to show stuff. It’s… it’s hard to just show stuff that hasn’t been seen before, cause that has to go through a whole approval process, and it’s… there’s a little bit of a art to like, we are a game, we are in the entertainment industry, so we want to hype people up. We can’t if we just start throwing everything out at all times, it gets… it’ll get oversaturated, it’ll get a little boring. Even though people are always excited, you want to keep that excitement and momentum.
FS – Yeah, and that allows us to concentrate on one thing at a time. But I think that yeah, you will see some upcoming concepts that you haven’t seen for a while, probably pretty in the near future.
OA – Yeah, I think really near future. Alright. Next question. Oh, this is a perfect question for what we were just talking about.
Do you visualize the actual spatial interiors and over all size when you do a concept drawing? Or do you do the concept and puff it up or shrink it to make it work?
FS – So yeah, that is part of the reason that we do the follow-up concepts, and they do take some time, is because that’s exactly what we do. We go through, we get all the dimensions, we make sure that the doorframes actually work with our FPS requirements, we make sure that the ship is fully functional when you’re inside of it from a gameplay perspective, and in order for us to save time, we do a lot of block-outs in 3D, and making sure that it all works properly, which leads to some concept shots.
However, there are some concepts that are just done by hand and roughed out very early on.
OA – Totally. And I think in-house, like, the concept artists that work here and Foundry 42, they build everything in 3D cause they work closer with the game designers, so when you’re concepting you’re trying to save time for the modelers and everything like that, you definitely don’t want a modeler to get something and go ‘oh, this doesn’t fit here’. So, we tend to have a little bit more time for concepts so that we can figure out everything and work closely with the design so that it doesn’t have to be re-designed.
But also, I mean, there is something to really cool 2D art that a lot of concept artists that are outsourced, just really make beautiful visual imagery. And then when we get those, we might take one of those drawings and then figure it out after the fact.
FS – Yeah, we’ll re-factor and make it work.
OA – We’ll make it work. I mean, we try our hardest… sometimes it can be confusing and difficult, but for the most part, we’ll keep the essence of the ship as much as we can, which is usually the majority of it. And have it with a fully functional interior. But, when me and Gurmukh design, we always think about interior space.
FS – Saves the modelers time. They just get right to it.
FS – What’s next?
OA – Do you want to read this next one or..
FS – Fire away.
OA – FarSeeker. I like how this is the only one…
FS – I just told you to go away, I apologize. And then fire away.
OA – Dude this is ridiculous. Can I just leave? Alright. Whatever.
FS – Don’t cover your face.
OA – I’m not gonna cover my face, I’m just bringing it down. Alright. Okay.
Could you rank the following possible influential/inspirational materials in order of personal importance when you start a new concept ship: ship role, company style guide, reference pictures, what you think fits the ‘Verse, personal appeal, favourite sci-fi or other fictional sources?
OA – You wanna take that first?
FS – Sure. Yeah. So, we do actually spend quite a bit of time, I mean, again, it all comes back to the manufacturers right? They kinda define the way everything looks now. But one thing, lately we’ve been looking at the shapes of the ships and making sure that the form fits with each manufacturer, having similar styles as far as maybe the bridge is always rounder on this type of ship, but it’s much more blocky or square on on this manufacturer, you know?
So, maybe this is more of a fighter pilot, this is more kind of industrial. So we do definitely keep a very big log of exactly kind of our style guides of how we approach each and every ship, and it kind of already falls into a type and a visual feel right off the bat when we start doing the concept.
OA – Yeah, and sometimes certain ships, we haven’t done a lot of them, they haven’t been developed as fully as ones we’ve done a lot, but we’re always consistently growing, and we try to keep the same essence and form language, more now than ever before.
Cause you know, obviously the beginning of the ships, it was kind of like…
FS – We were still figuring it out.
OA – Still figuring it out. But now I think what’s going to happen is the bar’s going to be risen. But, for personal influences and how you start, I guess… how I start a concept, sometimes you just look at a couple of pictures, and go, ‘oh, I kind of like this and this shape,’ but it’s different every time. If I’m really in the dark, I’ll just block out shapes until I see something, just black and white, just nothing…
FS – Just the silhouette.
OA – Yeah, sometimes not even. There’s this program called Alchemy that just draws weird stuff, sometimes it’s just, ‘ah, I see something in there’. Other times, you’ll get direction from somebody being, ‘oh, it’s this kind of feel,’ and then you start from there and do a little research, and then other times there’s no direction at all, and you’ve got to kinda piece it together yourself. I find just looking at three images… like if I have to do a helmet I’ll look at three things that aren’t helmets, then a couple of things that are helmets, and kind of mush them together.
FS – Yeah, that’s great advice too. I mean, I love doing that, you kind of get the overall look that I want to go for, and I find a couple of examples, then I find some kind of more radical looking things that aren’t necessarily on those things and I figure out this kind of style, this kind of look, that kind of fits the way it should be, but it’s not part of it, and I’ll just start of combining things, and start building shapes, and try to get something original and new so it’s not completely just reiterating on something that already exists. Evolve the art and the process and keep trying new things, and you’ll kind of see it and think that works, or you’ll know no, it doesn’t.
OA – Yeah, and it’s always kind of different every time you start. I don’t know if someone has a specific method of how they begin something each and every time. Cause lots of time you have to start just from a blank piece of paper, which is pretty tough you know?
FS – Yeah it is.
OA – Or a blank idea. You come up to me and are like ‘I need a jetpack’ and I’m like ‘I don’t knooooow’, and it’s like okay.
FS – I did that for Gamescom. Asked him to do a jetpack in one day.
*talking together unintelligibly*
OA – Okay. You want to ask the next question?
FS – Sure. Lets do it.
How exactly would helmets work on a multi-monitor display? Usually the extra monitors gives us more FOV in other games, but if heavier helmets restricts FOC, wouldn’t it just cover up significant screen space w/ helmet interior?
FS – This is a question that I do not have the answer to yet. Design has been working on a way to make that work, but there are some challenges such as a significant advantage while you’re playing the FPS, having so much more screen space. And you can’t obviously stretch it across three monitors, you actually need the extra FoV. So, that’s kind of a difficult one, and I’m not sure exactly how that is going to work. If you guys have suggestions, I’m sure, throw them into the forums and ask Design, and give your suggestions on how to make that work. Cause I know they’re still fleshing it out, but i don’t have the details yet.
OA – Yeah I think it was just unfair right now.
FS – And is that, the Oculus, that requires the full… the full thing too. Is that kind of like having three monitors?
OA – Well, I’ve tried the Oculus one time, I don’t necessarily think it’s like having three monitors, because you can just look to the left and to the right, it covers your whole face, but I think depending on… certain games you can change your FoV, but for certain games…
FS – I love when they do that, like racing games, and you have like… you’ve got your joystick…
OA – Oh, the windows at the side, yeah that’s so cool. I don’t know how we’re going to be able to do that to where it’s not a tactical advantage. We’ll figure it out.
FS – If you stack three more monitors, on top, then you could still have your 16:9 ratio.
OA – Okay, this is getting radical. Oculus!
FS – Lets just…
OA – I just did an Oculus plug…
FS – Yeah.
Do you have style guides for non-combat related things in the universe? (for example the look of clothing being different on each planet, or different by each clothing brand)
FS – We sure do.
OA – Heck yeah, we do.
FS – We have a whole fashion line that you guys are going to be able to try on all kinds of clothes.
OA – We got Megan and Rob McKinnon on that stuff.
FS – All over that.
OA/FS – Doing Terra fashion style.
OA – Terra fashion casual, Terra fashion business, Terra fashion upscale….
FS – We got Senators… downscale, bar clothes, bar patrons. Oh, there’s going to be a ton, it will be a world full of clothing.
OA – That’s going to be real fun to model. So many shirts.
FS – We’re going to be modeling a lot of clothing but that’s fun. I mean the whole system is based as we said before in the last one. The system is very modular, you have pants, you have shirts, gloves, shoes, high heels, hats… we don’t have high heels.
OA – Yeah, we… I was going to say, there’s a lot of animation things….
FS – That sounds difficult.
OA – Ok.
FS – Let’s not do that. Flats, we have flats. All kinds of stuff but yeah, I mean… lots of clothing. It will be quite exciting, you’ll really be able to customize your characters and even now we’re talking about the armour…
OA – Right…
FS – Right now, the armour that you saw in the GamesCom demo is just only a very, probably 40% of the quality, and very still preliminary and those armour pieces are really going to be built out to customizable…
OA – Right.
FS – Even though you talked about non-combative it’s going to be all the way across the board, everything’s going to be customizable.
OA- Right, like we keep saying we’re still….
FS – With fashion guides for every manufacturer, clothing lines, no different than we do…
OA – UEE has a whole thing even down to the deck crew, what colour… like… the oxygen mask and where does it attach, it gets….
FS – You can have it attached, not attached…
OA – It gets pretty complicated but the thing is it’s still… we’re still developing these things. When we did the first batch characters, when we did the second batch of characters, every time we learn so much…
FS – Right.
OA – So, you kinda always want to restart from scratch and be like, ‘nah, I can do it better’. You know…
FS – Obviously you can’t.
OA – Obviously you can’t but as we start developing it, as we start ramping up the character team, as we start ramping up the quality of the characters and figuring out our system and damage and the modularity… cause we have everything ready, it just needs to be…
FS – I think we’re finally wrapping up all the tech like as of right now and now we’re ready. The things we have are kinda more legacy but now we have the final Star Citizen tech of how we’re going to do all this stuff for the non-combat clothing… you know, including the wear we just talked about and all the different item attachments for all the different clothing. You know, put a jacket on top of your shirt type thing. So yeah, you’ll probably start seeing that in a couple months, I think, coming online. As far as that full system, it’s….
OA – Well, it probably has to be after the PU gets released…like a couple months, pretty close but…
FS – I don’t know exactly.
OA – I don’t know the date but we’re working on it.
FS – We’re working on it, that’s a promise. Cross my heart. Ready?
OA – Yeah.
Will the other helmets be closed at the back?I mean…now you can still see the skin of the neck and I guess that would give some problems in space :)
OA – No, never.
FS – Of course not, when we were working on GamesCom. We’re doing the demo, we’re doing the play test and then someone comes up to me and they’re like, ‘you know, the characters are kinda cool and all but when I was doing the EVAing, my neck was kinda like, you know’…
OA – And we’re like, that is a design choice.
FS – We’re out there in space, and I was like, ‘is that a problem?’ Would that be a thing?’ So actually, currently we got that fixed so actually it kinda has some black rubber that protects you. But you brought up a good point a week ago when you were talking about having a type of, you know, attachment or some kind of…
OA – Right.
FS – Bridge between the helmet and the suits that’s kinda modular. That way you can take the suit helmets on and off and they actually do kinda cover…that was just one of those things that you don’t really think about until you’re in space and all of the sudden your neck is exposed… that’s not right. That’s gotta hurt.
OA – Yeah, it’s hard too because when you first design a character sometimes when we’re doing the marines, they’re going to be fighting indoors. So, we kinda designed them for a situation like that and then as design goes on they’re like, ‘you know what would be really great, now these guys are going to launch into space or now the hull’s going to be breached’. So, as design throws things at us, that’s when we start to come back and fact check our characters. Between like, now we know that all the marines pretty much or all the combat soldiers or essentially going to have to be EVA capable at some point, to some extent, or at least survive in…
FS – That loops us back to the first question which is, that’s when we go back into the vault… and we re-evaluate the concept, we figure out do we need to go back to concept stage and make some adjustments, can we make them on the fly, like Omar did with the jetpack for the GamesCom demo… is it a temporary solution, is it a permanent solution.
So, we go back see what we can do and then all of the sudden we have the necks clamped and we have the jetpacks. Then we learn from it, so then that’s the next iteration, is we say, okay now when we’re doing the concept for the EVA jetpack that Jeremiah’s working on, we know the way the thrusters need to be set up now. Which means they’re going to take that into account so they’re going to be even better than the last version.
OA – Exactly.
FS – As we’re fleshing this out, because we are in pre-production, we are still learning how the game mechanics are going to work. So, that’s just a very organic iterative process.
OA – Right. I think it’s difficult too because one thing is just that, so concept would have to know that all these marines would have to be EVA capable yet they don’t know when they’re drawing it that it does, because you don’t know it until it’s built and it’s in game. Then you see, that ok, this is a problem but that’s something that needs to be designed. Once that happens, then we can go back to concept and say, ‘All collars, there needs to be some sorta collar or connecting point’. Then they’ll concept it, when we get to the game… the guy who’s modeling the character, he needs to know here’s where the geometry goes, here’s where it connects. The concept is now built off this one point…
FS – Yeah exactly.
OA – But there needs to be a whole bunch of things to occur for us to notice and to develop it.
FS – You need the suit to support it so it snaps in, you need the helmet to support it, then you need all the modular pieces of the suit to support it. So, it’s a thing…
OA – Yeah, especially ones like modular, flying through space. It gets…
FS – Why do we have to do space, you just have to support everything. Just the way it is.
OA – Space and land and sea…
OA – I’m not saying that sea though, I’m not announcing…
FS – You just did that.
OA – No submarines.
FS – No sea. No planets of water, please… actually that would be pretty easy.
OA – That was a good question though.
FS – Do Waterworld with Kevin Costner.
OA – Really? We’re going to do Waterworld?
FS – No.
OA – Announcing two thousand and… just kidding.
FS – Not true. That would be awesome. Some modders out there do that.
Are we going to come across non-humanoid alien races in the ‘verse?
FS – Absopositively.
OA – Yup. Hope so. We’ve been designing them… so…
FS – It would be boring if it was all humans!
OA – We spend a lot of time making some of these alien races, so… if they don’t show up in the game that wouldn’t be very fun.
FS – No, that would not be fun. We have some super cool alien races that we’re really excited about.
OA – With ships specifically designed to fit for alien races.
FS – Eventually on the PU side, too… at first it’s going to be very humanoid because that’s what we’re concentrating on – we want to make sure we do it right – and then we’ll move on to the next thing. I mean, right now obviously the Vanduul has been going on for awhile… the Banu, you know.
So, it will be cool to be playing around in the PU and all of a sudden starting to see some Banu appear… some of these different alien races that you get to interact with – I don’t know the lore… I don’t know if they like each other or not, maybe they don’t. But, I would imagine it’s going to be very similar to a Star Trek/Star Wars type deal where you go on the planet, you go into the bar, there’s all kinds of different alien races that you get to interact with.
Especially as you’re travelling through space, you’re going to be going into a whole new area that’s going to be primarily the alien race – you’ll kind of be the minority I’m sure. It will be pretty cool, actually.
So, I’m actually very excited about the aliens.
OA – I’m excited about the aliens too… and like we keep saying, the word of the day is development, right, so we have to develop… so at first when you develop a character it takes a long time. That’s the great thing about being a funded game like this by the public because… maybe at first there’s a couple alien races here and there, but as the world develops over time, like if this takes off and it’s 10 years down the line, I mean… you could have a fully populated world.
FS – Which would be awesome.
OA – Which would be amazing! I mean, that’s our whole end-up goal…
FS – That’s the goal, yup.
OA – For the initial launch, there has to be a give and take of… how far we can take it and develop it… but once we have it developed, we can take it pretty far.
FS – We’ll probably concentrate on the main races and then just get those polished and nice…
OA – Vanduul and Xi’An probably are going to be the most…
FS – Xi’An, Banu… yeah…
OA – Probably the most thought about at first.
FS – I think that’s all of the questions. Again, we’d like to thank our subscribers for making this happen.
OA – And we’ve been talking too about doing… you were talking… well, we’re breaking the 3rd wall… 4th wall here…
OA – About doing a recording of our artists making art and how we do a concept and how we approach it and like… the very first stages to the last stage. So, I mean… I’m down to do a video like that because I know some of you are…
FS – Okay, so maybe next time around what we’ll do is do some recording of the work in progress of some of your next work and then we’ll kinda demonstrate some timelapses of building a helmet from scratch to finish or something. Would be kinda cool.
OA – That sounds great.
FS – Alright guys, thanks again. Thanks to subscribers, thanks for having us and see you next time!
OA – See you around the ‘verse!