My journey studying computer games art

Caitlin Pirie

Faculty: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
School: School of Creative Industries
Course: BA (Hons) Computer Games Art
Category: Art and design

1 April 2019

I am currently a first year Computer Games Art student. Here's a walk-through that explains one of my first projects that I am currently working on.

At the moment, I am creating a fantasy mount inspired by the game World of Warcraft.

The first step when designing anything is to gather real-world reference to then use to create my initial designs. I decided to do a tiger creature with wings and a horn. For my real-world references, I looked at tigers, rhinos and birds of prey, like owls.

Six sketches of a fantasy tiger-like creature

My initial sketches explored a few different concepts. I felt that the more traditional tiger colourings worked the best with the owl-like wings which really complemented the striped patterns of the tiger’s body. I then moved on to drawing a more finalised concept. Drawing this more finalised concept was very useful as going forward with modeling, I can use it as reference alongside the real-world reference to get a more convincing outcome. To do this I used Photoshop and first sketched out the rough outlines, I then refined a bit and then coloured it on another layer.

Sketch of a tiger with a horn and wings

For modelling I used a software called Zbrush, it’s a program used to model more organic elements like characters and creatures. It is like you are sculpting with digital clay. Firstly I tried to get the really rough shapes of the tiger. I then decided to drastically push the geometry around to get the anatomy more correct referencing tigers' muscle structures. This included elongating the body and neck and drastically altering the structure of the face; I also added the tail.

Virtual model of a tiger-like creature

Right now I have got the basic geometry down and just need to keep going in and refining my model. This would include increasing the resolution of my geometry allowing me to get more detailed, as you can see that in areas like the face it seems more pixelated. This means I need more polygons to work with, which will make the model appear more smooth and higher quality.

Virtual model of a tiger-like creature

When it comes to complex features, like the wings, I create only one wing and then I am able to duplicate it to ensure both wings are the same and save me lots of valuable time modelling both. This is currently where my tiger creature is at:

Virtual model of a tiger-like creature with one wing

You can see how much they develop over time!

When I am completely happy with my mount I would then move on to adding things like the saddle and decorations, like the bands on some of the legs. Then I will create the textures either by hand painting – which would probably make most sense considering the style World of Warcraft has – or by using textures from photos, which could be useful if I wanted to create realistic looking fur or metals. This is what really brings a model to life.

Stay tuned for my next step on my journey when I will do all of these things and you can see my final product.


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