Growing up in the UK there were a few places on the high street that I could pop into and geek over the latest tech and computer games. These days, with the might of Amazon to compete against, and perhaps not always able to offer the customer the sort of quality service boutique high-quality audio stores could there are now far fewer of these electrical retailers. Currys PC World survives. These are two brands, Currys and PC World, who came together under one name to compete online and determined to be worthy of our geeky custom again.
This gamer site doesn’t hear from Currys PC World too often, but when I do, it’s usually a good one. For example, the parent company, Carphone Warehouse (yeah; they’re the same people), did this massive movie calendar back in July. This week Currys PC World is running a campaign called “Unexplored” which indeed is worthy of any native geek’s attention.
Unexplored is a celebration of concept art. It has been released just ahead of their Black Friday sales but makes no mention of it. Instead, Currys PC World commissioned Eva Kedves, David Tilton and Dominik Zdenkovic to produce concept art for a set of imaginary games.
To add even more flavour, these three concept artists were asked to transform unusual locations. So rather than a popular American city, or a post-apocalyptic Russian wasteland or another obscure corner of the jungle we have areas like Africa’s Cape Town, Ghana’s capital city Accra and the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia, as our sites.
The final piece of the project was to put these concept art illustrations online in an interactive map so you could explore an alternative world. Go check it out.
If you want a quick, but less immersive, summary then Geek Native has the lowdown on each location too.
Dominik Zdenković designed the concept art for this imaginary game. He was told; “Two brothers face off against one another on opposite sides of the law ” and came up with the following image.
How does he describe the concept art piece? Dominik said;
A shot of two characters in a heated argument, near locations that are prominent in Sydney, and with the police officers’ boat in the background. After that, it was just a matter of polishing the image and making creative decisions, such as keeping the police boat simpler than it is in real life so that it didn’t draw too much attention.”
Fort Monroe, United States
Game: When Night Comes
This time artist David Tilton was given a fantastic survival game called ‘When Night Comes’ to come up with an image to support. His brief was “Bomb survivors unable to cope with sunlight skulk the night while a ragtag group with perfect vision try to avoid being discovered.”
What was the process behind this piece? David explained;
For this image I started by looking up references [including of Abraham Lincoln’s house, which is featured in the image]. I feel that research is an important part of the creative process because it helps make an image, design or idea more believable. After I gathered the necessary photo references, I proceeded to create a few quick sketches to base my composition on. After that I began to place 3D and photo elements into the scene, adjusted their colour and began to paint on top of everything to create a cohesive look.”
Game: The End of the World
David Tilton was given this challenge along with this one-line description of the game “The ocean, near the most southerly city in the world, gives rise to unearthly forces in 18th century Argentina.”
This is the intriguing concept art piece he came up with.
David’s process for the end of the world in Argentina also started with reference collecting. He shares;
My approach for this image was to first gather references and read up on folklore/tales from the region. While doing this, I also created composition sketches. I wanted to have this scene take place by the ocean since that is a big part of the tribes’ cultures in Argentina. From there, I began painting the final image with a rough composition based on one of my sketches (although for this one I changed it a fair deal as I moved forward; that’s just part of the creative process). “To clean up the rougher bits of the painting I used photo textures for accuracy. From there, I finished up by adjusting the colour with some curves and colour balance.”
Game: The Trials
The Trials went to Dominik along with this description; ‘A Cold War spy thriller set in the beautiful “blue city”.’
As luck happens, Dominik had recently visited the city. He told the team;
Having recently visited Chefchaouen, I had no problems with inspiration. One of the things I noticed when visiting the city was that the older generation typically wore traditional clothing. Given that The Trials focuses on spies, I figured that someone going undercover would want to blend in. This allowed me to move away from classic spy clothing.”
Game: The Steampunk Detective
Putting Bhrum forward as a steampunk setting feels like a good idea to me. The concept for the game is “A world-weary detective grapples with a rapidly mechanising city.”
This project also went to Dominik Zdenkovic who seemed to take to it. He said;
A murky steampunk city with canals and some detective action? What’s not to love! As soon as I saw the pictures of old Birmingham, I immediately knew that I would want to feature: some canals and some old coal barges in the scene, with smokestacks and factories in the background. I also had the idea of the detective following some people around. From there it was just a matter of arranging the elements and figuring out a good composition that I could then polish up.”
Cape Town, South Africa
Game: The Lost Treasure
This is the first of the concept games that we’re looking at which was assigned to artist Eva Kedves. She was told; “: A young treasure hunter looks to make his fortune and give his family the life they deserve in the process.”
How did Eva take to the project? Photobashing and overpainting. She explains;
The game is very much about the freedom to explore, and when I think of freedom, my mind always turns to my early attempts to skateboard. There’s a certain rebellion in this picture that I like. To put it together, I gathered references, put together a mood board, sketched an initial scene, and then finalised it with photobashing and overpainting techniques.”
Game: The Battle for Osu Castle
Accra has a rich history, and so Dominik Zdenkovic’s brief was based in real life events. The concept for ‘The Battle for Osu Castle’ is “The true story of Nana Asamani, who took back Osu Castle from the Danish in 1693.”
Sounds like a challenge? It turned out to be Zdenkovic’s favourite. He told us;
This piece probably took the most research before I had some idea of what to do, since I was unfamiliar with the location and didn’t know much about the time period. After weighing up whether to have the main characters on the beach or in the city looking at the castle they are about to sneak into, I settled for the beach, with the main characters scouting the location before their attack. “This was my favourite piece, as it’s in a unique location and time period, and it ended up just being a really fun painting to do. There are not many colonial-themed games or movies around nowadays.”
Game: The Last Hit
There’s a mystery for Eva Kedves to consider with this brief. For The Last Hit, the game concept is; “A hitman completes a job only to discover his target is still alive. Has he been set up?”.
Here’s what the concept artist did with that.
Eva shared her thoughts on contrasting a game about assassinations with the city of Bruges. She said;
Despite the dark theme of the game, I wanted a summer mood with some greenery in the background. As in my other images, it all began with a sketch accompanied by reference photos compiled on a mood board. From there, I went on to colouring, before tweaking the position of the boat and the helicopter. As an aside, eagle eyed viewers might be able to spot the Easter egg in the image.”
Game: Hu is Rising
David Tilton was given this imaginary game to bring to life. He was told only that “A taxi driver in a near-future Guangzhou finds herself caught up with the mob.”
Here’s what Tilton had to say about this particular concept art project.
For this image I began with a rough 3D block out. 3D is an integral part of my workflow since it allows me to bypass any major perspective questions I may have. It also allows me to direct the scene I am going to make. 3D gives me the ability to fly around the 3D set and figure out where I want the camera to be. Once I narrowed down which shots I liked most, I took screenshots of them and began painting over them in black and white. At this stage, I focused purely on the placement of buildings, their possible shapes, and the composition of the image. After that, I began to polish up the 3D model, adding more elements, texturing it and so on until I felt it was a solid base for an illustration. From there, I placed photo light elements in, and painted in atmosphere to create depth.”
Game: Midnight Sun
Eva was asked to provide the concept for this imaginary game. She was told; “In the midst of a never-ending sun, a private eye tries to crack her toughest case. “
What did she have to say about the sun?
Once I worked out the composition, I put together a mood board with a rough sketch and some complementary pictures. From there, I moved on to painting and photobashing the final layout. To this, I added colours, and focused on establishing a yellow tone to emphasise the idea of an everlasting ‘midnight sun’.”