SeriousFun: Where Art and Fun Intersect – Concept Art, Movies and Game Design

Written by Dennis Kappen

KRON

I am using this venue to share my thoughts and experiences as a digital designer.  The main objective of my work as an industrial designer has been to create memorable experiences for the consumer in using a product, service or technology. My objective has always been to humanize technology and create new expressions of projected lifestyles that we crave or dream about.

Sometimes, it is presumed that many industrial designers have the aptitude to work only in the field of consumer product design. I tend to disagree with this notion because of the fact; the basis of industrial design methodology is creativity and ideation. Ideation is the most basic expression wherein designers conceptualize new imageries, alternative lifestyles, and new expressions of emerging and next generation technologies through the simple medium of pen, pencil and paper. These ideations may get transformed into utilitarian products, services or be an expression of technology integration that people may choose to use, experience or be inspired about.

I will always be indebted drawings and inspirational art of Star Wars and Star Trek. I must have watched the Star Wars movie more than 71 times, which may pale insignificantly to the number of times some of the Star Wars fans out there may have watched the movie. The most important aspect of experiencing Star Wars for the first time (at age 15) left an unquenchable thirst for science fiction, fantasy and alternative realities.

The art of Blade Runner by the amazing Syd Mead was manna from the skies, feeding my formative mind and fantasy frenzy mindspace.  In 1991 as a student designer, my passion for concept art culminated in “Wild Passion” a futuristic entertainment device for Sony Corporation, which was purely based on immersive experience of music and entertainment technology.  Strangely, this expression of experiencing music won an award.

At ACCD, I fell in love with computer graphics and digital animation and created “MAYA”, an alternative reality gaming environment to stimulate realization of mental imageries. It was a fun experience taking drawings and sketches into digital models and rendering.

The following were some of the images that were created.

MAYA-Digital Environment

MAYA-Digital Environment

MAYA-Digital Immersion

MAYA-Digital Immersion

However, this experience of modeling and creating renderings of my sketches gave me some insight into the pleasure of drawing and creating these conceptual domains. This is the main reason which prompted me to experiment with creating pencil and pen sketches of alternative realities where I could hide myself in.  Some of these are shown below.

KRON

KRON

SKYWALK

SKYWALK

BADUR

BADUR

Of course, these sketches were created in 1996 and look quite dated, however, I had a great time creating these sketches and toying with the idea of converting them into digital renderings. This latter part never materialized due to lack of time and other adventures into the realm of industrial design.

However, the thread that still maintained the connection with the conceptual art world and my domain of industrial design was the world of sci-fi movies and digital games. Movies provided me the venue to experience the brilliance and expression of digital artists and sculptors. The art and expression of surrealist Hans Rudolf “Reudi” Giger for the design of the Alien was amazing and breathtaking. Many of the drawings for the Alien exemplify the level of detailing, understanding of 3D form design and intersection of surfaces. There is a phenomenal foreground-background effect in the development of the form language of the Alien for the movie.

I tend to scavenge for art and drawings that were responsible for the creation of production sets of movies because of my interest in being inspired by the styles of numerous designers, digital artists and stylists. A few other movies which I find to be inspirational from set design and sci-fi perspectives are; The Fifth Element, I Robot, Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series.

Digital games were another avenue to experience the fun and immersive nature of being in the set design or the environment of play. I do not consider myself to be an avid digital gaming expert and I tend to lose out at games with opponents.  I believe, the main reason for this is perhaps the fact that I tend to get lost in the game, in admiring or critiquing the details and design of the objects, people and environments flying around within the game. Hence, I am no good at competitive digital games and do tend to get my butt kicked.  Mario is an inspiration. If most of the people played any Mario game, the world would be a peaceful, hilarious and a better place to live.

It is an amazing feeling, to experience the love of sketching and to be able to sit and doodle on a blank sheet of paper, oblivious of time and being able to transform the white space on paper into an intersection of lines, planes and segments that express environments, products or devices. I believe that any person can learn to draw if one masters the art of observation. In my opinion, observation is seeing beyond and creating the perception of depth, representation and detail of an object and the environment around it to a minute level. I have found drawing to be a medium to discipline the mind and help build patience in an individual. It’s a form of meditation and one can be at peace with oneself and the blank sheet of paper in ones presence. Why is it that kids tend to tirelessly keep experimenting with sketching and creating new art, oblivious of the opinions of people around them? However, as adults, there seems to be a hesitation in picking up the pencil and drawing from observation or a mental imagery.

Hence, have no fear people, start with a simple sketch, and then evolve to detailing the sketch and then drawing in the background, the shadows and whatever you feel would make your drawing an expression of your personality. All I can say is do not worry about peoples opinions, because your work could only get better and your competition and limitation is your imagination.

Draw and keep drawing …part of having fun is also creating the fun experience!!