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Designing a fighter space ship

MarscalebMarscaleb California or UtahRegistered User regular
Hello forum people; I'm new here. I was asking around for a good forum for critique for art, and this place was suggested.

I'm trying to create a fighter ship for a game I am thinking of creating. Right now this is an early rough sketch (a 3D model yes, but really just a sketch.) I was just sorta fiddling around with some rough ideas, and I'd like some feedback on what works and what doesn't before I take my next crack at this.
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And since someone who saw this was mistaken about the design, here's one where I emphasize where the cockpit is supposed to be:
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Posts

  • MarscalebMarscaleb California or UtahRegistered User regular
    UPDATE: Managed to tweak the design a bit here and there. Also I trashed the wing and put in a new one. It's not actually attached yet, but I wanted to try a different design.

    xI3iOX4.png

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Seems... shmushy. I guess objects in space dont need to be aerodynamic, but at the same time if you weren't going for that, why put on wings?

    Is this the first iteration of many? Or the result of some studies? Do you have any references?

  • MarscalebMarscaleb California or UtahRegistered User regular
    I started over with a different design.
    The details aren't in yet, and I feel I need a little something more for the very back, but I appreciate any comments, especially about the genreal design, proportions, etc.

    NvesDSE.png

  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    Are you looking at any reference? Have you considered the purpose of this ship? What classification it might have? How fast it might go? Does it need to land on a planet's surface ever? Does it exist only in space? Is it a fighter ship, a single person transport vehicle, a military ship, an exploratory ship, a merchant ship, etc?

    Both this design and your previous design would benefit from some brainstorming, I think. You may want to try sketching out (in 2D or 3D) some very fast, basic shapes and combining them into different ship versions. Try out a bunch of ideas (with the answered questions above in mind) before you land on a single design. If you can show THROUGH the ship design WHAT the ship's purpose is, that would be great.

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    Irukatapeslinger
  • MarscalebMarscaleb California or UtahRegistered User regular
    It's a fighter. In the final design I would have some weapons on it, but it's just rough right now.
    I have actually sketched out a few designs on paper, and then starter building the one I liked the best.

    I figure right now its at the point where I have to ask: Is the basic design good? Is the size good? Do these proportions work? Should it be longer or skinnier or have wider wings, sharper wings, etc? Or should I start adding in the extra detail?
    I mean, I personally thought it was pretty good when I last worked on it, but after that I need (1) to let it sit for a week so I can look at it with fresh eyes, and (2) get some other people's opinions.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    We dont have enough information to see where your going to give proper critique. If you have a bunch of sketches, post them.

    Could this work if you put a bunch of details and guns on it? Maybe. Is it very interesting as it is now? Eh, its a very simple, basic sketch of "space ship shapes" so far.

    I have literally no points of reference for the size, in comparison to a person, a planet, anything. I dont know how you get in it, I dont know how it lands, I dont know how you plan to refine those shapes, if that's on the agenda.

  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    Marscaleb wrote: »
    It's a fighter. In the final design I would have some weapons on it, but it's just rough right now.
    I have actually sketched out a few designs on paper, and then starter building the one I liked the best.

    I figure right now its at the point where I have to ask: Is the basic design good? Is the size good? Do these proportions work? Should it be longer or skinnier or have wider wings, sharper wings, etc? Or should I start adding in the extra detail?
    I mean, I personally thought it was pretty good when I last worked on it, but after that I need (1) to let it sit for a week so I can look at it with fresh eyes, and (2) get some other people's opinions.

    The reason I asked these questions was because it seems like the design heavily needs work. I don't think the design or the proportions are particularly effective. Also I agree with Iruka's points that the design right now is very simple, and we have no reference points for the size. I feel like you need to look at reference of real world planes, rockets, etc because those vehicles have proportions that work, wings that work, etc. Also try looking up reference of professional art regarding the same stuff, because those artists have had the years/decades of training to know what looks good and effective, and I think you need to really pull some cues from somewhere to bring "good design" into what you have now.

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    Iruka
  • Angel_of_BaconAngel_of_Bacon Moderator mod
    Is the basic design good? Is the size good? Do these proportions work? Should it be longer or skinnier or have wider wings, sharper wings, etc? Or should I start adding in the extra detail?

    Here's the frustrating but true answer to all of these questions:

    It depends.



    When I have a discussion about a design at work (I'm a concept artist, btw), I make a point to steer the conversation away from any value judgments- ie: 'Is this good? Is it cool? How do we make it cooler?'. The reason I do that is because I cannot have a productive conversation around those criteria- everyone has a different idea of what is good, what is cool- 2 people may agree something is cool, but for entirely different reasons, and trying to incorporate both of their feedback may result in a design that neither actually likes.

    I have a personal opinion on what's cool that nobody agrees with, but I still gotta keep my job- so how do I do it, what IS the conversation I then have?

    I try to determine what is appropriate.
    What problem am I trying to solve.

    Now, you may say, "well, the problem is obvious- I want a cool looking fighter spaceship. Isn't that enough? Can't I just go from there?"


    Well, slow down a sec.

    Let's start with the techincal requirements.

    This is for a video game- I know a thing or two about those, so some questions immediately occur.

    How big are you going to see it? Close up from behind, or far away in a Galaga-type affair? Is the game supposed to be seen on 60" TV screen, or on a tiny iPhone? Your answers will effect how much detail you can add for the sake of readability, how much emphasis there needs to be on maintaining a clear simple silhouette versus having every rivet and screw up front and evident.

    How many polys do you have to work with? The fewer you can get away with, the more stripped down and simplified the design should be.

    Etc.


    Game Design requirements:

    Is this the only ship in the game? Or are there many ships that this one will have to distinguish themselves from? Do you need to consider adopting a color or shape language to make this ship distinct?

    How will the ship be interacting with the rest of the game? Does it need a way to land, dock, refuel, eject the pilot, get repaired, does it need to physically grab powerups, etc.

    Does it need mounting points for weapons? Are those weapons interchangable? What kind of weapons, how big are they? Do they also mount on other ships in the game?

    Is the ship upgradeable- if so, how does that manifest? Upgrade bit by bit, or an overall upgrade? How many levels of upgrade?

    Etc.


    Art Direction requirements:

    -What is the style of the game? Is it cartoony/casual? Is it very intense and hardcore? Are there any other games/books/movies you are drawing upon for initial inspiration?

    -Who made this ship? Why? What culture produced it, what do they value? Is it a dark, sleek ship designed to frighten enemies as it rains death upon it's enemies? Is it a beat up old ship that has had guns retrofitted to it after the fact to make it a fighter? Is it the product of a massive army, stamped off a line, or is it the ship of an individual, reflecting a specific personallity? (Think TIE fighter vs X-Wing vs Millenium Falcon, what the look of each ship says about where it came from.)

    -Is this ship always in space? Should it be brightly colored to always stand out against a dark background, or will it appear against light backgrounds at times as well?

    Etc.



    Write all these answers down- now you don't have a vague sense of "how do I make this cool?", you have a specific list of things you want to accomplish with a design, that you can now design against.

    Long and skinny wings? Might not read if viewed at a small size. Sharper wings, may look too aggressive for the character that pilots it. Proportions ok? Might work in a cartoony game, not so much in a very realistic one. etc. etc.


    Now, in a work environment I would take all those answers that I got from the various people (AD, designer, etc.), I'd try to fill in any blanks, figure out how much wiggle room I had on each one, try to kick the tires on all the logic, so I build a little corral in which I can ride around in, when exploring my design.

    Then, I'd gather ref- if it's early days on a project this may just be broad inspirational images of paintings, photos, movies, games, etc. that I want to capture some aspect of. If the project's a little further along, I'll pull up previous concept/3d work from the game so I can make sure I'm matching the style overall, but making sure that I'm not making work that's too similar to previously made work. I'll do what ND suggested, pull up ref from existing similar objects- fighter jets, ships, spacecraft, etc.
    I might also pull up ref of things that have an abstract similarity- thinking of a shark is a pretty evocative image of a hunter, seeking out prey- so I might consider a design with a sharply pointed Mako-shark like nose, vents facing backwards like gills. Or if it's a tough bruiser of a ship, I might look at tanks, plate armor, samurai armor, bank vault doors, gundams. Or if it's an alien ship using unknowable technology- microorganisms, geometric solids, intricate patterning- things that seem unnatural when applied as a spaceship.

    Then, I'll sketch up a bunch of thumbnails- each one hopefully satisfying the requirements, but also each having a specific angle on them. ('This design emphasizes speed over firepower', 'this design has more armor in the front than the back suggesting attack strategy', etc.) Discuss, develop, iterate- maybe all of them are appealling and you just have to roll a dice to pick the best one to develop, maybe none of them work and you've gotta go back to the drawing board entirely.


    The point, overall, is that to evaluate how successful a design is, you have to be able to articulate what it is attempting to accomplish in more and more specific terms. 'I'm making the nose longer because it accomplishes x.', 'the back is flat because it accomplishes y.' So, is this design good, is it bad? It depends.

    IrukaMarscalebbowenchrishallett83fightinfilipino
  • MarscalebMarscaleb California or UtahRegistered User regular
    edited March 10
    Okay, you're right, I should be giving more details about how I intend to use this so I can get informed options.
    I'm sorry; I have a habit of trying to introduce my WIPs with as little context as possible so that I can get a more "pure" reaction from people. I feel if I'm constantly trying to explain everything and make up excuses for every little detail, then I'm going to lead their opinions too much and just get them to see the same things I'm seeing. And that's not helpful if I'm missing some giant glaring problem because I'm sitting to close to the canvas, proverbially speaking.

    This is for a video game- I know a thing or two about those, so some questions immediately occur.

    How big are you going to see it? Close up from behind, or far away in a Galaga-type affair? Is the game supposed to be seen on 60" TV screen, or on a tiny iPhone? Your answers will effect how much detail you can add for the sake of readability, how much emphasis there needs to be on maintaining a clear simple silhouette versus having every rivet and screw up front and evident.

    For the game itself the ship would be viewed from a distance. It would play as a classic scrolling shooter with some segments viewing it from the side (Gradius, R-Type) and other segments viewing it from above. (Raiden, 1942.) Which is why I've been including the top and side views. My main focus is for the PC. I will probably make a mobile port, (because hey, more market,) but I'm building with the focus of something I'd like to be able to sell on Steam or GOG.
    So the overall silhouette is probably the most important. But I also want a ship that looks good from the dramatic angles because it's probably going to be the dominating focus in all of the artwork for the title cards, store thumbnails, ads, etc. So I want something that looks visually appealing on the first glance, since that's probably all I'm going to get from most people.

    -What is the style of the game? Is it cartoony/casual? Is it very intense and hardcore? Are there any other games/books/movies you are drawing upon for initial inspiration?

    It's... probably going to wind up looking a bit more cartoony than I really want it to, just because I'm not skilled enough to make something photorealistic. But I don't want it to look intentionally cartoony. Like if you could see the pilots (which you won't) they would be drawn to realistic proportions and realistic facial features, but they would still be drawn. I'm going to try to create realistic-looking detailed backgrounds, but if they don't come out looking right, I'm going to shift them to retain readability more than accuracy.
    I know that's all kind of vague and whatnot, but the main take-away is that this would be a world with realistic proportions.
    I might also pull up ref of things that have an abstract similarity- thinking of a shark is a pretty evocative image of a hunter, seeking out prey- so I might consider a design with a sharply pointed Mako-shark like nose, vents facing backwards like gills. Or if it's a tough bruiser of a ship, I might look at tanks, plate armor, samurai armor, bank vault doors, gundams.

    I'm trying to abstract some designs of sports cars, TBH. I was originally trying to go with something that abstracted a design like spider, but none of the concepts I drew were working out. So, sports cars with a bit of a fighter jet design.


    Oh, and this would be a ship that flies through space and the atmosphere. The wings fold up to be level when it lands, but drop down to an angle when in flight to give better stability and control. I don't know if we'll ever get to see it land, but that's what I've been thinking of.

    Marscaleb on
  • Angel_of_BaconAngel_of_Bacon Moderator mod
    Cool cool. Taking that into consideration, my 2 cents:

    I think the broad overall design is solid enough to expland on, though on a mobile screen the top view of the double nose and wings may start to be slightly lost- you might consider thickening them, though the tradeoff there may be making the design a little 'cartoonier' than you were hoping for. But don't take my word for it- if you've got a working build where you can test your design on a device, that's the best way to test these things- or if not that, mocking up a .psd at mobile resolution to know what it'll look like at scale. My concern may be unfounded in practice.

    For a wing that changes angle, I'd expect some kind of hinging mechanism. Looking at the X-wings and imperial shuttle designs from Star Wars, the wings are connected flatly to the body so the wings can rotate smoothly. While it may be possible to make the current design theoretically possible, rotating around all the body curves, I'd suggest taking a pass to see what you can do to see if you can make the mechanics of how that rotation works more obvious on first glance.

    I might suggest at looking at SU-27s/F-15s for how they handle rear engine detail (I'm gathering that this is a double engine design similar to those, correct me if I'm wrong). Right now I feel like the engines may be being underplayed a bit, and could serve to stand out a bit more/break up the flat rear end in a more interesting way.

    On first glance I'd say the profile silhouette feels a little too car-like- I understand you are finding inspiration from car designs and bring something of that to your design, but I doubt you want it to read as a car with wings.
    Some things you might consider would be smoothing out the canopy to not have such a clear angle between the 'windshield' and 'roof' you'd see in a car, making it more of a 'bubble canopy' curve you see on modern fighter jets.
    You might also try to make the 'wheel arch' curve in the rear a more obvious indication of the body accommodating an engine there.
    I also might recommend something to break up that bottom surface of the body to make it feel less car-like. On a plane that might be air intakes, radar pods, etc.- what makes sense for a spaceship, I'm not sure.
    The vertical fins look pretty good on the top and 3/4 view, but looks a little strange on the profile view, but it may look less out of place with some of the other changes suggested. Right now they looks a little small and out of place on this car body, but I expect they will look better when the rear more obviously has engines in it.


    Speaking of cars, specifically sports cars as you mentioned, it's worth considering not just the form of sports cars, but the reasoning of sports cars as well. Namely, sports cars are designed to be fast, sure- but just as much if not more of their design is based on showing off, about projecting an image about the kind of person driving it. A Lamborghini is the ride of a millionaire playboy, a muscle car is a guy who wants to project toughness, a hot rod with a bunch of blowers and exhausts sticking out of it is going to be the ride of a guy who built the thing themselves, a car that's been stripped down to just the bare necessities except for an added roll-cage is an aesthetic that states, "I don't care about aesthetics, I care about speed", etc.

    So by saying you're looking at sports car aesthetics, you've implied an answer to my "is this the ship of an army, or of an individual", since sports cars are highly individualistic. So it's worth considering what kind of person pilots this ship, and then seeing if you're getting across that person's personality in the design. This may be something that only becomes apparent with further detail, but it's something worth kicking about in the back of your head as you keep developing this.

  • MarscalebMarscaleb California or UtahRegistered User regular
    edited March 13
    I was toying around with some subtle changes to the fuselage, (Tried making it look less like there was a "Wheel arch") and then made a couple tweaks that I thought worked with the subtle changes. Now I'm looking at three different variations.
    7MlevWT.png

    Still think I might curve the back edge of A like with C.

    I'm going to give some thought to the "what kind of sports car" mentality you described. I don't think I want a million-dollar looking sports car, I think I want something that looks sleek but is still a bit more accessible. But even saying that, I don't want this to "look like a sports car," just take that sort of inspiration into making a sleek craft. (Which is why I'm inclined to avoid something as deliberately showy as a Lamborghini.)
    I'm gonna try to give some thought to the underside and put something there for my next iteration.
    As for how the wings attach to the body, that's something I'll refine when I am finalizing the details. They can still bend around a curved surface if the internal edge of the wing is rounded to match. But that's the sort of thing that would be crafted in the final details.

    Marscaleb on
  • MarscalebMarscaleb California or UtahRegistered User regular
    A quick thought for the underside.
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    I got mixed feelings about it.

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