Alex Galuzin BlogExperiments in Game Level Design & Game Environments

Creating Unique Environment Design Sketches

May 25, 2012 Design / Sketches / Concept Art


I’ve been exploring and practicing more designing and conceptualizing game environments. It has been a really long time since I did any concept art and to start with no idea in mind, to just free style was a change of pace. I really enjoyed this free-roaming approach of seeing environments through shapes and scribbles rather then sitting down with a concrete idea of what the environment is going to look like ahead of time.

Here is the process:

I started with about a dozen marker sketches (Prismacolor Grey Markers). I sketched focusing on shapes, rather then drawing a specific type of environment.

Next I scanned them all into Photoshop and organized each of the sketches into a single document on its own layer.

I started to go through each layer and changing blending modes. I also re-arranged layers, flipped them and rotated them.

(click on image to view full size)

Through changing blending modes, I let the shapes create different environment designs for me. My mind started to create environments out of shapes I was seeing. I began to see buildings, cityscapes, landscapes, caves. All thumbs were unique and interesting. Something that I would have never created myself, if I were to just sit down and try to draw it out. The beauty of this technique is you could look at the same thumbnails and see a different environment then I did. It is a very subjective.

This technique was really fun to do and in the end, I ended up generating about 50 different thumbnails for environments. All could be a really good way to start a digital painting and to get unique ideas for a new game environment or level design.

Below are some of my favorite designs. Please note that these are not complete designs but only a starting point of an idea to be explored and designed further.

1. What I see:

  • Interior
  • Large interior space with banners hanging down
  • Mall
  • Futuristic prison
  • Office building interior

2. What I see:

  • Shipyard (10-15 Century)
  • Rooftops of slanted roof buildings in Europe
  • Stormy night

3. What I see:

  • Water in the foreground, 3 individual islands in the water. Each with their own habitat.

4. What I see:

  • Large residential apartment building
  • Large rock/mountain formation near a sea shore
  • Large structure in the water, maybe a bridge

5. What I see:

  • Junkyard
  • Industrial factory
  • Wooden logs

6. What I see:

  • Bridge
  • Large structure on left side of the bridge
  • Broken Bridge with settlements of people and village living underneath
  • Tunnel on left lower side with train tracks or road coming out
  • Transportation route or some sort of storage facility for vehicles

7. What I see:

  • Interior
  • People looking up at the sky

8. What I see:

  • Downtown
  • Skyscrapers
  • Small, residential houses on the bottom. Modern skyscrapers meets residential houses
  • Two buildings with a bridge in-between them

9. What I see:

  • Downtown plaza
  • Mountain scape with buildings on top, industrial buildings.
  • Water/Energy processing plant

10. What I see:

  • Old, stylized houses/village on stilts and/or various islands above ground. No roads.
  • Long chimneys
  • Night time

11. What I see:

  • Mountain, rocks
  • Snow

12. What I see:

  • Parking Lot
  • Museum
  • Dam
  • Early morning
  • Modern type colleseum, tourist destination

13. What I see:

  • Haunted house
  • Old abandoned mansion

14. What I see:

  • Bridge
  • Underwater
  • Large monument along the bridge
  • Caves and cave waterfalls with light coming through from outside

Here are thumb sheets: (click on image to view full size)

(click on image to view full size)

(click on image to view full size)


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3 Responses to “Creating Unique Environment Design Sketches”

  1. Aldighieri says:

    Very nice! It seems to be a good way for people who aren’t very artistically adept to get brilliant concepts down. I’ll have to try this some time!

  2. Jeff Rozanski says:

    Hey Alex, it’s been a long time. Glad to see you’re still working on what you love. Keep up the great work.

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