Conceptual Design: Understanding and Communicating Form

With the emergence of powerful next-generation platforms such as PS2 and X-BOX, game artists have been given unprecedented power to create realistic manifestations of their creative vision. No longer do characters, vehicles and other game objects and environments have to be represented by blocky, low-resolution geometric parodies of the desired design. Ultra-high poly-counts and adaptive tessellation of spline-based models allow for highly sophisticated organic surfaces. Real-time reflection, specular and environment-mapping allow light and reflection to perfectly describe every subtlety of an object's shape. We are rapidly approaching the point where sophistication of form won't be lost in the translation to real-time models. Rather, the lack of subtlety in how form development is approached will begin to mark the difference between good design and bad, much as it does in the product and automotive industries. More than ever before it behooves the designer to truly understand the three-dimensional nature of the forms he or she is creating, and to properly communicate to whomever may be executing the design the important relationships, resolutions and proportions of form that they are instinctively instilling into their designs.
The goal of this paper is to give designers the ability to think of organic three-dimensional shapes in a structured way, rather than as abstract "blobby" form. As well, an understanding of how form affects light and reflection, and how to apply that knowledge to drawing, will be covered. Armed with this knowledge, artists should be better equipped to control the forms in their designs, illustrate them accurately from any number of angles, and communicate the underlying structure (and thereby a way of approaching them) to whomever (including themselves) may be tasked with making the design 'real'.

To sum up, this article could be called: "Making rounded shiny things that look good."

> Describing Organic Form