December 13, 2012

Stone Giant Breakdown Pt. 1

I was tasked to concept the Stone Giant at WB Games a few years ago when I was working on another LOTR related project. A few of the other concept artists that were on the War in the North core team had already taken a stab at this boss creature but for one reason or another their concepts weren't what the designers wanted. Andrew Arconti did a wonderful take on him, he was much more human but the stone shapes were incorporated in really interesting ways. For instance, the top of his head was formed from a flat slab, and his skin was a subtle mix of skin and stone. Overall his face and general anatomy was still very much human.

My art director, Phil Straub wanted me to to see what I could come up with. Giant boss characters are always fun to concept. Gone are the nuances of a player character or some important NPC. Boss characters are usually supposed to be big, mean and ugly. I don't think my stone giant is ugly per se but he has all the nuance of a bag full of rocks (literally).

As usual I started with some roughs.
Here are my first few sketches.

And here's the final page of roughs
The only restrictions were that he should be bipedal and he had to fit on the troll's animation rig. (An animation rig in game development refers to the "skeleton" of the creature that the animators use for animation.) Unique rigs are often expensive for the game's memory so many games will re-use them. Skilled art teams can get a lot of use out of a versatile animation rig. In this case the LOTR cave troll rig worked out just fine for any number of big lumbering beasts.

Here's a breakdown some of my thought process and design choices for these roughs:
His most distinctive feature are his very long, straight "slab" arms.
#1 - The Old General
I thought this direction captured some of the ancient quality of Tolkien's world. Everything in LOTR is old, and has some involved history to it. So maybe this stone giant has seen alot of battles, and he's got the demeanor of a grizzled old warrior. He also has a low center of gravity and looks very solid and strong.

Lots of asymmetry, kind of a boring head design.
 #2 - The Ugly One
Here I'm playing more with odd shapes. I think it's a cool design overall but there isn't much of a hierarchy of shapes, every piece of him is different and doesn't seem quite as tough. I do like his off- kilter pelvis and legs but I think this shoulder area is a little muddy He also looks like he could be an Ent if you put some leaves on him.

With a few proportion tweaks this guy could've been a winner!
#3 - The Living Hill
With this idea I thought the Stone Giant could be a living part of the landscape. When he's not lumbering about causing mayhem he just settles into the landscape and the environment just grows back around him. I thought if we went forward with this direction he could even have grass and foliage on his back. Those cavities in his head could have water pouring out of them as he rose up from the ground. His chest and lower body aren't that interesting, it's pretty much human looking but I do like his pointy feet. He would've been fun to take to final for sure.

He has some character in his face, if you didn't get on his bad side he'd
be more of a gentle giant.
#4 - The Fighter
I think this was the first drawing I did when I started this concept. I wasn't thinking to far out of the box, he's very cave troll-like. If I took this guy to the next stage I'd have to tweak his proportions. I'd give him a smaller head and mush longer arms. Howeever I do like his built in "brass knuckles' on his fists.

He has some nice thicks and thins to his body shape but he could be in any
old fantasy world. He's not "Tolkien-ey" enough.
#5 - The Monster
This version of the character is much more lanky and skinny than the other iterations. He also looks less intelligent. I feel that because he's skinnier he doesn't look like he's the right scale, He could almost be some little impish goblin type creature and still work.

And just for the sake of playing with iMovie to make a video here's my process for the roughs:

In part two of this post I'll show you the progress of the final concept, so stay tuned!

December 4, 2012

Spectrum 19!

Remember when I mentioned a while back that I got into Spectrum?
Well it's finally out!

So go buy it and then quickly turn to page 116 to gaze upon some really nice Justin Sweet concept pieces for Green Lantern and the Avengers. Then divert your gaze to the Stone Giant I did for LOTR: War in the North. THEN and only THEN you can look at the rest of the book. Specifically Emily's art, see her post here.

It's a huge book, so big that by the time you get to the end you'll forget about what you saw in the beginning! A lot of friends also got in for the first time this year, guys like Nick Southam, Chris SeamanTyler Jacobson and Tyler Walpole. (though now that I think of it some of these guys might have gotten in before... but I'm too lazy to ask or check)

My stone giant has invaded a perfectly good Justin Sweet spread.
I want to re-iterate how happy I am that I was selected for inclusion into Spectrum. I've been trying for years and getting pretty discouraged but this does renew my hope for entering in the future.

I think in a future post I'll break down the Stone Giant concept and show some of my design process, if it was good enough for Spectrum it's good enough for a blog post. Stay tuned!