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Monday, February 3, 2014

The Making of Nectar: A Honey Bee Quest (Part 1)


I am pleased to have begun work on Nectar: A Honey Bee Quest, an interactive game app conceived by Malachi Bazan of Nevada City California.  Mal approached me over a year ago about the potential of collaborating on a fun, educational game featuring honey bees.  My job is to render background art, create textures, model characters/assets, and work closely with Malachi on game play and story lines.  Mal is a gifted animator and programmer.  He's also a skilled character modeler and 3D designer.  Our goal is to create a game with a strong mood and attention to detail, to put the player in the world of honey bees.  In doing so, we hope to create empathy for these insects, and educate young people of their importance.

The first step is to design the world our honey bee character (who we call Bella) lives in.  Below are some samples of various textures for leaves, trees, and ground.  This 2D art will be melded with 3D assets within the game to create the environment.

TREES

Apple Tree

Maple Tree


Pear Tree

This game will require several types of trees for Bella to fly into.  The leaves and tree branch art will be fixed to three-dimensional structures within the game, sort of like placing a skin over an object.  The leaves and twigs on these branches are all separate assets and can be moved, flipped, and rotated so that they can appear random. 

Apple Tree Branch
Maple Tree Branch
 
Pear Tree Branch






Pear Tree Leaves


I gave particular attention to the details on the leaves.  From Bella's perspective, these leaves must hold up visually when players fly in close.  Several variations of each type of leaf are drawn up, and with the help of some tools in Photoshop they can be manipulated further.  Everything put together and you have any number of trees all of which will be unique.

Tree Bark Texture

What about the big parts of the tree?  Like the trunk for instance.  For that I have to design bark texture that can be wrapped around a 3D model placed within the game matrix.  

 Apple Tree Bark

 Maple Tree Bark

Pear Tree Bark

I enjoyed drawing up these textures.  Every species has unique bark patterns and coloring.  I look at several samples of bark in order to get a feel for each type.  In order to cover large areas that can wrap around a 3D tree trunk the artwork has to "tile" as seamlessly as possible.  So they must connect top to bottom and left to right.  If any details stand out too much or aren't spread out evenly, a pattern can emerge.  The Pear Tree sample below is an example of a texture that still needs a little work.  Of course there is only so much you can do.

 Apple Tree Bark (tiled)

  Maple Tree Bark (tiled)

Pear Tree Bark (tiled)

Ground Texture

It is especially important for ground textures to tile comfortably because it has to cover a large area.  3D assets such as trees, bushes, rocks, etc will break up the monotony and a believable world will emerge.

 Dirt

 Mud

 Stone

Dry Grass

Dirt (tiled)

Mud (tiled) 

Stone (tiled) 

Dry Grass (tiled)






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