Youtube Thumbnail Green Man Drawing in PhotoShop

Initial concept work for a Green Man giant made of trees

There are many variations and interpretations of the ‘Green Man’ symbol, mostly characterised as a mans head or skull with plants and other vegetation sprouting in and out of the eye sockets, mouth, nostrils and ears. The Green Man is generally considered a representation of the cycle of life or rebirth of nature when spring time comes around. Continue reading “Initial concept work for a Green Man giant made of trees”

Ladders ledges rocks and grass floating island colour

Floating islands – Speed sketching indie game environment concept art

Here is another of our 16x sped up videos of a floating island being created. This pencil sketch is filmed from start to finish showing concept art for part of our platform game environment. Continue reading “Floating islands – Speed sketching indie game environment concept art”

Rough pencil sketch platform game level scanned from moleskin notepad.

Demo 2D platform game level video and sketches

Here is a scan from a rough sketched drawing in a moleskin notebook. We have a few that are dotted about in the studio to capture ideas for parts of environments, platforms, objects and characters that we are pulling together for interactive apps and games.

Digitally painted watercolour over sketched platform game level drawing.

Being a simple sketch, we spruced it up a bit with some digital paint. We use a custom pencil and custom brushes in PhotoShop to retain the hand-made traditional art look.

We have already created several prototype pencil-drawn games using a game engine we wrote a few years ago. We will get round to doing some basic screen capture compilation videos of these, as a special treat for you guys, maybe!

Rough pencil sketch platform game level scanned from moleskin notepad.

Here is a super-early demo screen capture video of the hand-drawn demo game level drawing from above. It’s very basic compared to what we are now working on, but sowed the seed for us to create a more epic project. The rusty acoustic guitar riff we played over the top was just to add a bit of atmosphere to the demo footage.

Detailed hand-drawn platform game level design process.

Here is a complete commission for the level design of a platform game. I have produced a detailed reference for 3D modelling and texturing in 3DSMax for use in the Unity-developed game.

Squared grid level design process for collision map platforms

A grid-check is done prior to the final rendering. This is done with a transparent map of the platforms in the level over a grid. This helps to check the structure and map of the platforms, and helps to prevent in-game mechanics and the overall level design from breaking the gameplay. On a basic level this could be something like: Player gets stuck in a ditch and doesn’t have a high enough jump to get out.

User research

On a lean budget and tight time constraints, a bare minimum for user research should be to play-test the draft level design. Player/user feedback is then closely analysed to help improve the level design through iterations until the team are satisfied that it works well and is fun to play. Following this, the level is given the green-light for final artwork to be created.

Pseudo 3D Level Design

This is a pseudo 3D platform game level, which has a 2D-platformer feel, but a 3D parallax environment. Think game genres similar in camera-orientation to Shadow Complex, Ori and the Blind Forest, or the Rad Rodgers Kickstarter project.

The creative work and overall level design here is for a prototype. The storyboard and script are in constant development by the main game development team I am working with. This script also doubles up as a game design document which includes a specific set of game mechanics, some of which help the player to control the main character.

Release on iOS and Android

The puzzle-adventure will be released on both iOS (iPad and iPhone) and Android tablets in future. The head office for the production team of this game (and others) is in Hong Kong.

Below I have stitched a composite scan together in PhotoShop. The fully-rendered pencil drawing is drawn in pencil across three A3 sheets of smooth Canson Cartridge paper. The paper weight is approximately 200gsm.

Level design final pencil rendering composite for a platform game.
Pencil rendering of a platform game level design
The level includes, amongst other things: magnetic lava rocks, wooden ladders, gnarly trees, and some nice grassy platforms.

Quick look at a level design process

First of all I came up with a really rough concept level design on a scrap of paper. Some tweaks were needed, but this concept contains the basic ideas for puzzle mechanics within the level design.

Biro sketched level design by Peter McClory

After I was satisfied with the level design, I planned it out a little more accurately on an A4 piece of squared paper. Graph paper has too many squares. In fact it is worth getting hold of squared paper that is as feint as possible, so that there is more contrast with your drawn design.

This step helps to ensure that the player character can make certain jumps up to platforms, and across gaps.  You don’t want to player to find it either impossible or nearly impossible to access certain areas, unless that is intentionally part of the level design.

Draft level design on squared paper by Peter McClory

The draft level was adjusted in places on squared paper, then tested in the game engine, playing with the character to ensure that the various areas were the right height and widths etc.  This squared paper version was then photocopied for use as a template when drawing the final level.

The final level was drawn using tracing paper, masked to a photocopy of the squared level drawing, so that there was an accurate guide for where the platforms, walls and ceilings should be placed.

Zoomed close up of a hand drawn platform game level by Peter McClory

Zoomed close up 3 of a hand drawn platform game level by Peter McClory

The drawing was done starting at the top-right of the image, across and downwards, to minimise smudging.  The rough details were placed with 2B pencil, and then filled in with extra detail over the course of the drawing.

Complex hand drawn game level by Peter McClory