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Dmitry Belozorov kindly talked about the way he works on his amazing 3D weapon designs, discussed the vital points in concept art, personal ideas, the advantages of Fusion 360 and KeyShot, and more. It’s definitely worth checking his helpful guidance.
My name is Dmitry Belozorov. I am from Minsk, Belarus, and have been working in CG since 2015. When I was a student I got hired at a small outsourcing company where I started my journey into GameDev. I dealt with illustrations and environment concept art and worked on such project as World of Tanks, Master of Orion, World of Warships, World of Warplanes. In the meantime, I was also fond of industrial design and had been designing exteriors of machines and production facilities for local companies. Once, I even designed a train. Nowadays, I still continue digging into the industrial design specializing in realistic Sci-Fi hard-surface concept art.
Vital Points to Rely On in Concept Art
In CG, the main goal for an artist is to create a magical sense of reality, immerse a player in the story and gameplay. In concept art, you offer solutions to the given challenges. To make a good design you must keep in mind such particularities as an art style of the current game, gameplay and so on. But there are some general things not to forget when creating any concept.
The balance of shapes. Use the principle of Minimum-Maximum: fewer instruments, more expression. Forms must fit together and get along with each other. It’s useful to apply the Rule of Thirds, control the balance of big and small details. In order to develop a sense of harmony, analyze plants and animals. Their forms are natural due to the years of the evolution since it is a key to survival for living organisms. Also, don’t forget about the lines of force, they’ll make your design more dynamic.
Tectonics and construction. According to Louis Sullivan, “Form follows function”. Keep it in mind when designing vehicles, weapons, and something like that, because hard surface relies on the framework of the functionality. If the form contradicts with the function, the concept will look unnatural.
Interaction. One of our main goals is to design a concept that clearly explains how a player will interact with the object, how he’ll hold and use it. Let’s take any transport as an example: the interaction pattern shows how characters can get inside, fix and operate it. That method enriches the model with additional details bringing the design to life.
Materials. Materials must be recognizable and should fulfill their functions. For example, neither glass nor metal can carry weight inappropriate for their physical characteristics. This fact is vital for creating a believable and sustainable design. It’s also important to enrich the list of materials used in the concept and bring some variety: plastic, rubber, glass, etc.
Color palette. Think about the harmony when picking a color. I often use three types of colors: main, additional, and the third one to show the accents and details. Ideally, colors should be chosen according to the Rule of Thirds. Itten’s Color Palettes and his color theory are at your disposal.
The final version. I believe that the final version of your design must look impressive, follow the rules of aerial perspective and have clear forms. Here, lighting is especially important, so it’d be useful to learn some theory in photography, how to set up a scene and light sources during a photo session. A good presentation of the piece is able to compensate flaws that appeared during the production.
Advantages of Fusion 360
I like Fusion 360 for a quite flat learning curve. Fusion is a good starting point on the way towards the CAD modeling, plus it is relatively free. I use other CAD software too but Fusion lets get a good result quicker, and its interface is easier. CAD modeling is perfect for hard surface creation as there is no need to think about the grid and you can concentrate on the design instead. It is also great for industrial design as a tool for fast 3D sketches which can be further refined in more advanced CAD programs. Models from Fusion 360 are easy to prepare for 3D printing quickly which is useful for both enthusiasts and professional industrial designers.
Reinventing the Design
Reinventing the design for me is a good way to learn about the forms and construction of weapons. That’s why it’s important for me to leave the inner construction as it is and use it as a base for external changes. Without compromising the function, I make the form more interesting and up-to-date, with a more coherent silhouette.
I usually start with an investigation of the weapon’s construction from its blueprints. Then, I build a properly sized carcass which defines the borders I cannot cross during the production. After that, I draw sketches on top of that in Photoshop and look for an optimal form taking cues from real weapons. The next stage is creating a model based on the sketch. Sometimes I step back to refresh the sketches in Photoshop and modify the form.
Balance of Details
It is essential for me that the weapon looks functional, so I approach the detalization stage carefully. The idea is to find a balance between the high detalization, believable look, and sustainable design. Lead the viewer’s attention from less-detailed places to the focal points, let them relax. Besides, keep in mind the harmony of size and don’t make too tiny details. Look at the military equipment: there are no unnecessary parts, each detail is important and has its own proper place. This is the design I am looking for.
Rendering & Post-Processing
Usually, I render my projects in KeyShot. It supports quick mixing of the materials and allows to add scratches and roughness without UVs. In addition to that, I spend some time on post-processing and add textures in different blending modes trying to make the weapon more realistic. Again, when picking a color I think of the harmony and choose colors according either to the reference from nature or Itten’s Color Wheel.
I have a few ideas on how to treat functionality. First of all, you need to analyze references and watch how weapons and machines behave. For a better understanding of how something works, you can try to model something similar, use its inner structure and create the model inside-out building your design gradually and relying on the skeleton. If you combine functional analogs and proven technologies with your own vision and a sense of form as well as approach design as a construction set, you are nearly bound to succeed.
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