While I have used Photoshop to create still graphics for Athletics Marketing, this page highlights my work as a game artist for Sneakaway Studio and my graphic design as T-Shirt Chair for my eating house, Warner Hall.
Sneakaway Studio is a studio run by two Davidson professors that tackle projects that combine art and technology. I started my work for them in a class taught by Professor Owen Mundy where we created a game about data tracking called Tally. After that class, I applied and was hired as a game artist for their new game idea “Happy Baby” (subject to change).
My main roles were to:
– create game characters (mostly animals) in Photoshop
– make sprite sheets of each body part on a transparent background to give to animators
– research animal behavior, other artist renderings, and color palette studies
– organize Dropbox files
– brainstorm and create 7 environment packs, each with a unique but cohesive feel
– design start screen, progression screen, and app icon
I worked with a team of six other interns, 2 of which were also game artists. A benefit to working with a small team, like many start-ups, is that I could understand other roles better, which helped me in my role, and I could see the difference my input was making. The biggest result of my work I saw was creating the game style. When we joined Happy Baby, the game had a very simple look and game play.
By the end of the 10 week internship, we had an entirely different game. The style I created was made through a lot of trial and error, and knowing when something felt right. The first style that felt like the right direction to go in was my rendering of an African Penguin. It had a specific style, cohesive color scheme, and leaned towards realism without being in the Uncanny Valley.
As a team, we decided the feature that was working was the gradient and that we wanted every character to have a gradient somewhere on its body. This was a big discovery because after some more trial and error by me, I found that each environment should also have a gradient background, blending from a bright neon to a darker version. After we decided again as a team that this was the direction to head towards, I began doing color and design studies, particularly looking at the art of Carl Burton and Owen Davey.
I started building a color wheel starting with my initial environment that felt like it hit the target, and building from there. This color wheel was like a light in the dark to revealing more about the style of the game, which would influence other game screens such as the start screen, progression screen, and app icon.
From this experience, I gained more comfort with controlling Photoshop and creating my own content. In sports marketing, I will often add text on top of photos, manipulate coloring, or use the quick selection tool to clean up a cutout. But with this experience, I learned how to have more control, both in tool usage and layer organization. A character’s PSD could gain many layers very quickly, and I learned the importance of merging shapes, grouping layers, naming layers, and generally keeping the file compressed and clean.
I also learned a lot about color study, and how a small hex code change can have a large effect. Most notably, I learned about myself as an artist and learned to trust my instinct on what style feels right. Making strong decisions like that and sharing them with the rest of the team can positively impact the entire project.