Day in the Life of Mod Whalefis
I’ve been asked this week by the wonderful people in our Community Team to write a blog. Having never written a blog before I decided to look up the official definition of the word before I got started. After multiple attempts to connect to my rubbish wi-fi, Google came back to me with this:
: blog; plural noun: blogs
1. 1. A regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.
‘HA!’ I say to myself, unintentionally out loud and much to the surprise of myself and the dog, ‘written in a conversational style’. If you were to question anyone in the RuneScape Art Team and ask what my conversational style would be, I’m sure words like ‘insane’, ‘random’, ‘side-tracked’ and ‘rambling’ would feature pretty heavily in their description. So I’m hoping our Community Team have heavily edited this so it makes some kind of coherent sense.
If you’re still reading this, I’m supposed to tell you all about an average Tuesday for me. Once again, ‘HA!’ I think I’m one of those very lucky individuals that tend not to have an average day. If I had an average job this would be easy, but I’m Art Director of a nearly 15-year-old game in a team of over 35 very creative artists - no two days are ever the same. I think that’s why I still do what I do and love it so much.
So to crack on, why Tuesdays? No one likes Mondays and to be honest a lot of my Monday mornings are spent in planning meetings which can’t be revealed here! I like Tuesdays. Next to Thursdays, they’re my favorite day of the week, and they’re named after the Norse god Tyr. See what I mean about rambling?
My day normally kicks into gear around 9:30 – 10:00, so of course I arrive at 8:00 and that time is MINE. I plan my day ahead and prioritize what I should be up to today and how many of yesterday’s ’to-do’ post it notes I can remove from my desk top.
It’s not hard to find my desk in the office. It’s the messy one in the corner surrounded by open art books and colour printouts Blu-Tacked to the wall. I normally overflow onto the desk next to me where our Lead Illustrator Mod Lee M sits. Understandably, this drives him mad, but he’s not here this week, so about ¾ of his desk is now covered in art books. Sorry Lee.
I’m going to be looking at some level-lighting alternatives for Chronicle this week, so I’ve been rummaging through my eclectic collection of art books looking for some suitable lighting reference: The Art of The Croods, Puss in Boots, Evolve, Before they Pass Away (which is about 6 inches thick) and anything else I can see that has the art of Nathan Fowkes scattered through it. They are tagged in the corner of the page with a Post-it note and lay strewn over my desk (and Lee’s), and under there somewhere is my laptop, which I now find I need for my first meeting of the day. DOH!
So twice a week, the art leads and myself review all the work generated by the team over the last few days. Joining me in the room are four JMods: Paul_B our lead Animator; Alec, Lead Character Art; Stead, Lead Environment artist; and Arkan23, Senior Concept Artist. These sessions normally have me scrubbing though my laptop for some fun references: ‘A bit like this but with the legs of these two, but more like a tree’. It’s also not uncommon to find myself and the Lead Animator leaping around the glass-walled ground floor meeting room giving feedback on this week’s animations, much to the amusement of HR in the office next door.
Right after that we have Concept Art Rush, a 30-minute meeting (which it NEVER is) in which we take a look at this week’s concept art with the chaps who draw the stuff. These feedback sessions aren’t just limited to RuneScape but include all our internal projects, and once again have me searching for reference on my laptop or struggling with the weird Wacom tablet we have in that room. As well as the Concept Team and myself giving feedback, we also take a look at what’s coming up in the next few weeks and who’s going to be working on what.
Lunch in the canteen next, and time for me to catch up on my Boom Beach. Just got my stun cannon - awesome!
Back at my desk I’ll catch up on emails and see what’s going on with the team. We’re looking at making massive changes to our animation pipeline, which - believe me - is no small task! I head off to a catch-up session with our Lead Animator, Tech Artist and the incredible coders who have fearlessly taken on this challenge. The chaps have made some real progress, and we review vids of some of the new character rigs in action. We’ve still a long way to go and a lot of legacy issues to resolve, but the end results will result in more natural animations and - more importantly - very happy animators.
A cup of coffee and a walk around the grounds with some of the team for a little fresh air sees me back at my desk and back in Unity 5, throwing together some lighting rigs. I cut a rectangular hole into a piece of paper and use this window to isolate colours in some of my pre-selected artwork, which lets me focus on an area without being distracted by anything else on the page. A bit old fashioned, I know, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it…and I’m old.
I take screenshots of my favorite 6 out of the 11 rigs I’ve managed to bang out this afternoon, drop them into Photoshop and colour the treatment filters to fine-tune the lighting. Once you have the basics down, this is a more creative workflow and you can pull colours around to your heart’s content, making non-destructive, broad changes to the scene. Using a colour lookup test card, I import these back into Unity with surprisingly good results. I decide to leave it there and review them tomorrow. Things always look different the next day, and I’ll probably end up re-working half of them. Come the morning, I’ll push some of these images under the leads’ noses and see what they think.
With the working day over, a quick change of clothes and I’m outside with some of the team psyching up for tonight’s training session. A bunch of us are doing the London – Cambridge bike ride in a few weeks and I’ve got a 30 mile cycle ahead of me. At least it’s not raining.
02-Jul-2015 14:07:41 - Last edited on 03-Jul-2015 10:58:35 by Mod Kalaya