Character design

This session we met Chris O’Connor, technician working with both Games Design and Art and Graphic Arts. The workshop was supported by third year Games Design and Art student Sam.

These workshops were focusing on Games Design and Art; at WSA this might include developing narratives, character and environment as well as coding, for computer, board or card games. One example of how broadly the definition of  ‘games’ are taken was WSA students working on a brief to create a mini golf computer game, which they then translated into a physical game, including the windmills!

We got started with a version of ‘exquisite corpse’ where everyone drew at least two heads, torsos, and sets of arms and legs – there were no restrictions so we had humans, monsters, animals, sea creatures, fantastical beasts and the rest…

These were then cut out and swapped around so everyone could create their own ‘Frankenstein’ style character. The drawing skills in the group were fantastic, showing how well they could draw forms from memory although there were resources to reference if needed. Mixing up the body parts stopped anyone from sticking to preconceived ideas around what a games character ‘should’ look like.

These assembled characters were then given names, personality traits, skills and a back story. The group got really into this and needed no encouragement in developing wild narratives around their creations.

Adam Procter, Programme Leader – BA (Hons) Games Design & Art also visited us during the session to speak with the group about the course and took us to trial some games developed by first year students. It was great to see ‘work in progress’ to get an idea of what kinds of computer games were being designed and how they tested out basic prototype ideas to get player feedback. The WSA students had also included their inspiration and ideas of how graphics could be developed. The Saturday Club members enjoyed seeing these games in their raw state, getting an insight in to how the slick finished product we experience as games players starts out.

Check out the free coding software to start developing your own games Chris mentioned here:

Thinking in 2D, 3D and back again

Back from the festive break and ready to get making! We kicked off the year drawing and thinking of how 2D and 3D looking and thinking are related.

Using common household objects as our starting point we began with some drawing warms up to get us back in the swing. Working on long lengths of paper for 1 minute with charcoal, we moved around the room, drawing around or over the previous person’s drawings. The paper began filling up as we drew by touch and from someone else’s description.

Now that we were really familiar with the objects we moved from representing them in 2D to 3D, drawing directly with lengths of wire. The wire forced us to relinquish some control, as it is harder to manipulate and encouraged us to think about the line coming off the page and becoming sculptural.

This then developed to working in cardboard. The group’s representations of brushes, cups and tea pots working roughly in cardboard were ingenuous and showed a real understanding of 3D thinking. Their knowledge of how to create basic 3D shapes from a flat material allowed them to be really ambitious, often taking a very individual approach to creating responses to the same objects.

Their wire and cardboard objects were then installed alongside the originals and we drew both ‘real’ and sculptural version of the real objects again, this time using ink. The ink drawings showed confidence of line and how the activities had developed the members’ observational skills.

By the end of the session the room was filled with fantastic drawings and sculptures.

The human knitting machine

This week we continued exploring yarn and knitting with knitwear designer and WSA tutor Antonia Sullivan.

We began by creating yarn using t shirts, we had all perfected this technique having practiced last week. Once we had an enormous mountain of yarn we got into groups and became a human knitting machine. Based on the principle of ‘French knitting’, usually using a cone with a central hole and a series of pegs to loop the yarn around, this time the pegs were replaced with people creating a giant web of yarn, which grew really fast once we had all worked out how it worked. We then displayed our finished lengths around the room creating a network of threads.

Moving from the collaborative to the individual, from the macro to the micro we scaled down and tried ‘hand knitting’ and ‘finger knitting’. These processes using no needles created fun quick results, particularly with the jumbo t-shirt yarn. We then battled with giant broom handle needles but the results were slower than the earlier techniques.

These were then added to the growing ‘installation’ in the room. Seeing the knitting in this way allowed you to understand the structure of the process and where different knitters had different ‘tension’ creating tighter or looser patterns.

It was a really hands on, playful, physical end to this terms’ series of workshops and we all felt proud of having mastered a new skill.