Art I like, and want to emulate: Ian Mcque Part 1

So, a while back I came across art by Ian Mcque –

He’s got this really awesome style, sort of a highly colorful, painted scrapyard look, with swooping curves, Asian influences, and gigantic floating structures in the clouds. In short, everything I love. So after staring at his artwork for a while, I thought I would give it a shot of my own – see if I could be inspired by his style, and come up with something original.

I decided to make this a current gen game model, using only normal/spec/color/glow maps, and limiting myself to under 30,000 polys. The goal was to have a fully articulated model that I could import into UDK and fly around in. I would need to rig, animate, and properly set the model up in UDK – a good challenge, since I’d never done it before. My last experience with anything Unreal-related was a cancelled wargame I worked on for 3 months back when I was just a baby new hire.

So I started with a rough shape, and gradually filled it in with details pulled from Ian’s work. After a first (extremely) rough texture pass, I had this:

Which as you can see, needs a lot of work. Main points of concern for me were the many small vents, the fins, unfinished uv mapping, and the textures themselves. There was just no real differentiation between all the different shapes and forms of the texture. It’s really muddy and not…interesting enough. The vents and fins just didn’t feel very functional, or add much to the shape.  I spent some time fiddling with the textures, and came up with this:

Which is MUCH closer to what I wanted, texture-wise. I kept working on the uv-unwrap and refined the model as I went. More fiddling, and removing the fins and vents brought me closer to what I had in mind:

This was a much more solid base, and I felt pretty comfortable in moving onto re-creating the fins and vents. I wend for more articulated shapes, things that look like they actually should move/adjust to wind currents… that sort of thing.

Much better. So all that remained now is to finish making all the details, and start working on a more colorful paint scheme. A couple of evenings later, and I had this:

And yes, he is the King of the world. I wasn’t completely happy with the textures or the color scheme, and the spec levels were waaay too high… so I continued to tweak and fiddle.I had also showed this to some of my coworkers, and had gotten some extremely valuable feedback. Incorporating that feedback and more tweaking, brought me here:

I was much happier with this. It’s at this point I started to move the model and textures into UDK. It was a lot of fun building the materials and making sure the model loaded properly. While I worked on exporting into game, I continued to refine and add bits and pieces to the model. One major change was to add those huge sails/nets to the sides of the skiff. This was an attempt to further remove the model from a direct copy/clone of Ian’s work. I’ll talk more about this later.

Here’s that latest model in UDK:

Eventually, I decided to add in something environmental, to be floating in the clouds next to the Skiff – Floating coral. After playing around with procedural displacement maps in 3DSMax, I came up with this:

Which I nicknamed “Voral”, or Vertical Coral. Discussions with coworkers definitely helped come up with the logic behind these floating islands. Since Avatar, everyone’s been all about the floating rocks. I’m glad I got to do something different from the granite monstrosities. Smilie: :D

Finally, Here’s a couple of in game shots of the skiff and voral together in a scene.

In Part 2 of this post I’ll talk about why I eventually decided not to go with this design as a usable final piece of art for the game idea, as I was originally going to. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you guys think of this whole process, and I’d highly recommend that you check out all of Ian Mcque’s artwork!


Category(s): Artwork Workshops

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