Beware of Bots
'Beware of Bots' is an illustration project I began woking on in 2011 to develop my character and environment design process. I started the project by writing a short outline of a story about a boy who loved robots. The story centred around the boy's discovery of an old rusty robot who had escaped from his inventor and become lost in the woods. The purpose of the story was to link a series of interesting characters, props and environments that I could develop striking visuals for.
Once I had decided on the various elements I would be designing for the project I planned a series of research trips to inspire my work. The trips included a day at a local aquarium to study fish, a walk through a woodland park to study overgrown nature and several walks during a holiday in Tenby (Wales) to gathered inspiration for buildings and the overall coast-line environment. I also organised photo shoots with a couple of my friends to inspire the personalities and aesthetics of my character designs.
After completing most of my research I spent several months sketching ideas for how I wanted the boy and the robot to look. Initially I drew caricatures of the friends I had based the personalities on and then I pushed the sketches further until I found the right balance.
With the environments I tried to start with really extreme caricatured versions of each idea and then worked backwards to bring more believability into the designs. Most of the sketches I did started in Adobe Ideas for iPad, which allowed me to create numerous iterations of each idea until I found what I was looking for.
When I finally decided that an idea was working well, I exported the sketch to my Mac and started turning it into a more finished painting using Adobe Photoshop. For the character designs I created a number of different types of image to show 360° rotations, expressions and accessory designs. For the environments I created a mixture of conceptual paintings and functional plans to show how the designs would look in different light and also how they could be built as three dimensional models. I also painted a couple of key scenes from the short outline story I wrote at the beginning.
One of the major things I learned during this project is that drawing is 100% the most important part of any design process and that mistakes made early on are the hardest to fix. Some of the best images I created originated as strong drawings.