The Evolution of Bartleby – Part 1
As a principal artist here at Kingsisle Entertainment, it is my job to create a style for all the different worlds we have for Wizard101. From the look of a ninja pig to the feel of the streets of Unicorn Way, it all needs to have the same treatment in order to create the illusion that this is a living, breathing world full of magic and wonder.
In this article series I will focus on how we achieve these magical worlds. We will go from concept, to 3D model, to texturing, to effects and then finally to a game asset that is viewed by millions of Wizards around the world.
Let’s focus on one aspect of Ravenwood – probably the most important aspect: Bartleby, the world tree. He is the source of all magic in Wizard City.
We start with a concept phase, which is a 2d painting of the character or world. This is where we play with a variety of ideas to establish what works and what doesn’t. What look and feeling are we trying to convey with Bartleby? Is he a sad tree? Is he happy to have Wizards running around his roots? Is he a wise tree? We asked several different artists to try their hand at what they thought Bartleby looked like.
Remember, this is a brand new world we had just thought up and had no preconceived notions of what it would feel like. We were playing around with ideas and having fun with it. We didn’t give the artists any rules or restrictions, but only gave them this simple parameter: Bartleby is a tree at the heart of a magical city. This should be represented by a crystal or a globe in the tree itself.
Here are several of those artist’s submissions –
This first one is decent, but the tree’s face was a bit too human for our tastes. The spirals in the tree are a nice touch, though.
This next one had a great grandpa feel to him, but he was deemed too cartoony for Bartleby.
I like the look of this one, but it had a more matronly look to the tree.
This one was a cool concept and we liked the green beard, but his faraway look was too passive for a wise old tree at the heart of an action-oriented story.
This tree has a more natural look to him. His face is melded with the tree instead of simply a tree with a face in it. Yes, there is a difference! We did think the buildings in his leaves were a nice touch though.
This is the one I submitted for this concept art phase. While it didn’t get picked, I think some of the colors and buildings surrounding Bartleby made it into the final Wizard City look you see today in the game. I still like the crooked nose and eyebrows of this one :).
Now even though this tree didn’t have a face in it, the color scheme and shapes of the buildings around it were chosen to establish the “Wizard City” look.
This last one is more like it! Look a bit familiar? We enjoyed the hawk nose, the beard integrated into the tree itself, the globe in the eye socket. It seemed to be all there.
Of course, all of these were great concepts. While this last concept was selected we actually incorporated pieces from all of the concepts into what would become the final Bartleby that you see in Wizard City.
In my next article I will discuss the process of translating these concepts into the 3D object that eventually became Bartebly’s game form. Stay tuned!