GAFX 2017 Masterclass kicks-off with Steve Walker’s videogame character designing session

The 2017 edition of the GAFX festival kicked-off today at Bengaluru and as mentioned earlier, the first day was replete with Masterclasses and sessions. One of the sessions that we attended was that of Dhruva Interactive, art director, character art, Steve Walker. The Grand Ball Room of The Lalit Ashok soon was overflowing with an enthusiastic crowd for the inaugural session of the fest. The speaker had a rich experience in his field and it showed pretty well in his presentations. Drawing examples from old games to the latest ones, he demonstrated on how the gaming industry’s creativity and proficiency has changed in terms of technology over the years. As character designing has become much less tedious in the recent years with the advent of various software, the speaker notified the audience on how one can just click a photo from a phone (which supports 4K, like the new iPhone) and put it on the system and craft a model from it. Further highlighting software like AMD Tress FX, deeming it as an amateur software and how it still needs to grow, it still assists in making the job easy. Apart from that he mentioned the name of Nvidia Gameworks. He then mentioned the physics on how clothing simulation is done in videogames and how character designers have to be excellent cloth designers as well, to bring in the natural look and feel into the character. Further adding that how simulations has made it easier and saves time rather than old methods where the whole piece of clothing had to be made by calling in a professional tailor to achieve desired results. Walker then gave a brief on what substance designer is and how it helps in generating a huge scene very quickly and how substance painter allows a designer to paint directly into the model. Citing an example of the famous animated feature ‘Scooby-Doo’ and how its characters are coloured in a witty manner to make them shine as individuals and create a distinct identity, he stressed on the importance of colour theory and the ‘Hue Wheel’ in game design. He further showed in his presentation, the current motion capture capabilities in real time with an example of Naughty Dog’s famous IP, The Last of Us. He did not get much into the rigging and animation section as he reminded everyone that the next session was with someone from DreamWorks Animation and they would be covering that in a broader way. Finally, he concluded his session by saying that the advent of technology is not taking away the jobs of people; it is merely taking away the laborious portions of the job and not the creative ones. The creative part, he stressed, still lies with the individuals. The future, as he envisions, will no more see game art designers sitting on their computers for long periods of time and designing something, but rather going out there to places which will inspire the game’s environment and draw the aesthetics from there. After a few questions from the audiences which came through the GAFX app, he concluded by saying that now the opportunities galore for students and enthusiasts who want to enter this field as there is a huge number of resources available online and one must be proactive in following their passion.