Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Elements of game design part 6: Visual Composition

The basic principles of visual composition lie at the heart of all forms of visual communication, and making sure that these fundamental building blocks are included in every aspect of art that you create is vital in making sure that the thing you are creating can be an accurate reflection of what it is you are trying to depict, regardless of how fantastical the subject matter. You could paint the most amazingly stunning piece of work, but all it takes is one slight error in how you out it all together initially, and the flaw screams out from the image, becoming blatant in where you went wrong.
A concept piece depicting good use of scale: the placement of the characters, looking out onto the epic landscape gives the viewer the same sense of a large scale environment. 
In environmental design, if buildings aren't geometric and viewed with the correct sense of perspective with their surroundings, then the overall feel of the environment isn't going to be convincing and only be a wrongly depicted image of real life. When what it should be, is a convincing window into an environment that is true to life in the basic principles, while still being as dynamic and original as possible, making use space and lighting. Positioning of the perspective in all compositions is also greatly influential on the images 'mood', for example, to give a sense of scale a wide field of view is used to capture a large landscape and sweeping vista's to show the large scale of an environment. For more enclosed settings, a viewpoint from close to an object and looking down on them tends to give things a more 'intimate' atmosphere, and usually works well when depicting indoors and scenes between characters. The placement of people within environments is also just as important, as an image to depict some sort of large scale surroundings is often amplified when a tiny representation of a person is included, as this gives a good idea of just how large the environment is in contrast to the person. 

This is a good example of an interior environmental piece of work that not only demonstrates an enclosed space but also the depth and height of it through a unique perspective, to show how tall the staircase stretches. The contrast between the lighting also demonstrates the bottom of the cold interior (with blue) and the warmth of the light leaking through above.
This is often seen in games, with the use of the in game camera, as 3rd person cameras over the characters shoulder are often used in horror games to give a sense of a claustrophobic environment and to generate fear.... while in open world games, the camera often pans back at opportune moments to allow the player to take in the world that seems to stretch around them, allowing them to take it all in.

Obviously when an aspect of design concentrates on character development, the focus on fundamentals is based around proportion and shape, and how closely they are to real life. Regardless of how sci-fi or fantasy based the character is, it has to function on the basic functionality of organic life that exists in our world.... weather it be human or part of the animal kingdom. Everything is based on functional shapes and how they work together, and every part of composition shares that.

With my own work, in visual design I have slowly began to hone all the individual elements that make up the rules of composition, it being the first time ive been taught in detail all the important factors as opposed to the more randomised way id work before, which would always demonstrate the important information im missing in the final outcomes. The process of sketching quickly and repeatedly to nail all of the important elements down, has been an important factor in how my 2d work has evolved and how I then tackle my final pieces of work. Composition in game production is the next step, as it takes things to the next level by introducing not only the 3d element but also the dynamic element of time, now that we've begun bringing our work into game engines. This takes the compositional aspect into the realms of functionality, and how players can literally interact with things that were originally just there aesthetically. 

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