Ice Pirates (Stage 01)

BRR, YE SCURVY DOGS!  And so, a new project rears its head, this time under the mentoring of @taskbaarchitect [Chris A] ,  for a taste of what its like to work with a designer on an environment project – and a chance to gather delicious advice nuggets on the way.

[” How about a pirate stronghold carved out of waves in the middle of a frozen sea – They were caught there in the flash-freeze and so set up camp and never left.

It’s large enough that several ships-worth of pirates live there – the scavenged remains of their ships are still there, frozen in the ice, with the wood being used for ladders and bridges between the waves.


There’s no eco-system per se, it’s not really sustainable, they’re surviving in the short term by digging into the ice (good insulator), using wood to keep low-level fires going and feasting on the fish and similar caught in the ice.

Being pirates, of course, they’ve been able to resist blinging the place out a bit with their stolen wares.”

– Chris A ]


My task –

[ “Three or four images to really capture the look of the place, give the 3D artists enough reference material to expand it into a world where you can walk around, consistent architecture, that sort of thing


Maybe one sort of general establishing shot and then a few closer images of, say, one person’s shelter. One of the boats and how it’s been repurposed now it’s half submerged.”]


A frozen sea?  Whats all that about? Clearly its not the same as an Iceburg. My first task was to do a little research into the motion of waves, the shapes they make, and suss out just what a frozen wave landscape may look like…

..they started out pretty wild…

[ Chris pointed out that some were a little TOO wild –

‘a few of them seemed almost too exaggerated, like the ocean would have had to have been going Disney-levels of mental when it flash froze to get them into that situation.’ ]

..then were toned down a bit.

..and brought down even more, for the sake of defining the areas without a big ol focal point.

The next thing I did was start to imagine how the Pirates had branched out beyond their wreck.

This rough served as a thumbnail for working out what problems the pirates may have to deal with when building their structures.

First I jotted down a few freestanding structures- the kind which would sleep a pirate or two on lookout duty, or who doesn’t like the idea of sleeping inside the ice caves. These would be made of larger, more obvious chunks of upturned boats, life rafts, and even large barrels or storage crates.

I briefly touched upon what the inside of the caves may look like- pirates decorating important social areas such as the kitchen/food storage  with ornamental parts of ship, flags,  or even bits of fine cloth plundered from a trading vessel.

I described in a little more detail how some of the more ‘constructed’ structures may look –

..And then finally used all of this information to visualise  the ‘establishing shot’.

Of course, you may be thinking ..I overlooked many areas which I could have poured detail into – and was actually *asked* to pour detail into right at the start of the project,  something I overlooked when consulting the notes I made on my objectives- bad bad silly mistake!

In my defence, I was simultaneously participating in a job-applicatey Art Test and associated issues (which I wont go into here)  which threw me off my stride a little when I got back to this project- something which would not have happened if I had managed my approach more efficiently.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that myself and environments have a history of process fisticuffs, and I had to wrestle with quite a few daft hangups I’ve had for a while now when approaching this project . They should be gone now. They had BETTER be gone….*shakes fist*.

My task now is to add the detail which I should not have overlooked in the first place..

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