Creative Futures

Inspiration for the Competition

During the afternoon, our team – compiled of myself, Katie, Rachel and Shelley – scoured through the web to find some animation and media competitions that were occurring in a similar time period to our January 6th deadline.

We gathered a range of different sources individually, then presented our findings to each other. After careful and considerate deliberation, we decided to limit our choices to the following four:

  • Art with Impact – Focusing on the topic of mental health, with a five minute time limit.
  • Anifilm – (IFAF) – A competition from the Czech Republic. fifty percent of the submitted film has to be animated.
  • Black and White Festival – Focusing on a monochromatic colour palette.
  • Animex – Teesside University’s annual animation and gaming festival.

As a group, we decided that gathering inspiration and researching aesthetic styles that we felt had a personal appeal was an appropriate task to undertake, before making the final decision regarding which of the competitions to enter.

Matt Rhodes

During placement year, my work was heavily influenced by an unlikely source. It was whilst playing ‘Dragon Age Inquisition’, and receiving a related Christmas present from Katie, that I discovered the art of Matt Rhodes, lead design artist for the DAI game. To me, his art strikes a very fine line between realistic detail and composure, whilst maintaining a stylised, yet anatomically sound character and creature concepts.


The image above contains a beautiful contrast between warm and cold tones, creating an atmosphere that is explained through the content of the piece – in this case, three wolves cowering as a larger, more menacing animal appears from the darkness into their place of light and comfort. The limited source of lighting provides depth to the scene, and the intricate areas of shading direct the focus to the ‘key’ action – the confrontation. Within a matter of being diligent with his choices, Rhodes creates a striking piece that combines appealing creatures, sound environmental design and engages the viewer to enquire more about the scene before them.


The ‘Tarot’ card style is a key element of storytelling throughout the DAI game. Characters are introduced by their ‘Tarot’ cards, and stories about their conquests and tales. The image featured above retains Rhodes’ stylised characters, but the card is broken down into different layers of environments, with depth created through the use of alternative materials to give the image a textured appearance. The style reminds me of a sophisticated technique to that which was used in ‘Song of the Sea.’ The use of materials as textures, such as using paper and other organic material, creates a unique cue that links the two approaches – literal and visual storytelling.


The image below illustrates some of Rhodes’ less defined work. The work below depicts some of the environmental concepts that he had created for the environment for DAI. The rendering of the images are quite gestural, with sketch lines and undefined detail – yet there is an appealing beauty to what would be described as ‘rough work.’ If the group were to proceed with a three-dimensional concept, I would love to try combining the models with the visual style of the two-dimensional art styles – especially in that quite organic, sketchy format.


Low Poly Design 

Low poly design has been an art style that I have explored throughout the summer period. The style is very appealing as it resinates with elements of childhood; playing with lego, experimenting with drawing abilities and learning the basic shapes that, after being broken down to bare detail, can formulate any item, creation or person known to man. For that reason, I feel that low poly modelling would really appeal to younger audiences. The psychology of shape in design (research!) has already proven popular with that target demographic, as games such as Minecraft have demonstrated.



From my research, I have noticed the trend between low poly and detailed environments and concepts is that the colour palettes have been chosen with great consideration, and have been executed in a way that would have typically been overshadowed by traditional modelling and lighting. The expressive use of colour compliments the charming simplicity of the style.

Pottermore Patronus Test

Recently, JK Rowling released a new feature to the popular Pottermore website – the Patronus test. The test allows the Pottermore user to undertake a quest, following a questionnaire as they explore three-dimensional environment, accompanied by an undistinguished shape of light. Once the user completes the questionnaire, their Patronus charm takes the form of an animal that has been chosen in response to their decisions to spontaneous prompts.


The style is very visually appealing due to the limited colour palette. The cool tones compliment the Patronus charms when they begin to form – causing them to stand out against the blue and navy of the surrounding environment. The trail of light following the animal is very mystical – complimenting the fantasy nature of the Harry Potter series. In my own opinion, the style is appealing due to the two-dimensional visuals, created by three-dimensional execution. The test abandons the ‘norm’ of three-dimensional animation, retaining an illustrated visual style that works much more effectively as a cue to the ‘magic’ occurring before the user.


For environmental design, one example that resinates with me is the visual design of Bloodborne. The environment is quite desaturated, complimenting the horror/gore genre of the game. Through using cool tones, there is an emphasis on the red of the blood and glow from the street lamps – when combined with the atmospheric fog and light from the moon, creates an eery and unsettling experience for the player.


The concept artists have achieved a visual style that contributes to the narrative of the story – the player experiences the world of Bloodborne through the protagonist that they create. The player is known as the ‘Hunter,’ collecting souls of the damned in a city that is invested by werewolves and monsters. The choice of colour, atmospheric effects and limited light sources create a bleak, isolated existence.

No Man’s Sky

Last week, Katie and I had the opportunity to take a look through the concept art book for the recently released game, No Man’s Sky. Whilst the game itself has had less than favourable reviews, the concept art is nothing less than stunning. The designers have achieved a balance between organic matter and man-made, futuristic lifestyle.



The concept designs are not overly complex, but have used the colour palette to imitate detail and create unusual environments – formatting the organic matter to be viewed in a new way.

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The game, Witcher 3, features some beautiful town environments. The buildings feature charismatic architecture, including organic materials such as wood beams and stone walls, incorporating traditional Scandinavian and Eastern European culture and influence within the game – a tribute to the Polish origin of the story.


Yet another fantastic example of environmental concepts is the leading fantasy game, Skyrim. The terrains range from mountainous forest landscapes to snow-covered desolate wasteland, emulating the limited development of human civilisation at the time that the game is set within.


Whilst Skyrim’s environmental concept execution could be considered quite similar to that of Bloodborne, there are different elements that separate the two different genres – fantasy and horror (-although, it would be argued that both games would be considered hybrid as  the boundaries due tend to cross). The visual direction of Skyrim manifests the awe and astonishment of the natural world with elements of mythical lore. The game achieves an element of realism by incorporating the natural world within the fantasy realm.


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