Starscream Game-Mat / Design Tutorial

Today we are going to look at one of my recent pieces, the coronation Starscream mat, and more specifically how i go about the initial designing of things. (things being the technical term for all the arty pictures and logos and stuff as well as things like game design which we wont go into here because thats not the target audience).
The first thing your going to need is either an idea or someone with one who wants that thought brought into a more physical plane of existence. In this case we have someone who would quite like Generation one Starscream decked out in his coronation gear on a mat.
Next up we need to spend some time doing research and getting some references together, sure you could just move onto the next step but this bit is very important, Leonardo da Vinci didn’t pull image of human and animal anatomy out of his head he spent quite a bit of time studying the subjects he was interested in. The same applies here, do good research and get a better idea of your subject, in this case research meant watching clips of the 1986 animated movie which by research standards is a quite fun thing to do. I do also have a masterpiece Starsream round here somewhere which could have been helpful but I would prefer not to take it out of the box (ah the wonders of die-cast).

So you have your idea and your reference material what now?

Take a piece of A4 paper divide it up into about 9 sections and start scribbling, at this point the smaller the designs the better as it gives you a clearer idea of what works and what doesn’t, its interesting to note I favour the left of the page in most of these designs even at this stage, subconsciously I know that he’s going to look better weighing that side of the image down. turn the paper over and keep drawing start on a clean pice and do the same until you pin down the general poses you like the most and then we move on.
This is a slight cheat as I have combined pages but in this next phase you take a sheet of A4 and divide it into 4 then take the ideas you like most from the last section and make them bigger. You can see at this point there are only really two poses I’m considering and the main issue I am trying to resolve is the placement and angle of the arm on the right (for-shortening is always there just waiting to catch you out)
After this its up the the individual I tend to go up to the 1:1 scale, you sort out the background and all the little details and finalise the design, in this case there is still something missing though. So we know all the weight of the art is on the left and while we have congratulated ourselves for using the cape to draw the eye around the image and up to the main focus theres still something missing, didn’t the person who wanted it say something about text? Well not specifically in regard to this design but we were paying attention and theres still some space to fill so some text and maybe a logo might look nice and fill the right side of the page in one fell swoop. Now what would Starsream say? Back to the research!
So we watched the coronation scene again and that combined with having watched everything transformers ever (though we weren’t fans of japanese headmasers, in either language) leads us to believe the text in the final image at the top of this page is in character and you could probably make it up of things he really did say relying on the fact that people tend to remember things wrong to make them seem cooler anyway (just ask Kirk, Bones, or Scotty)
And finaly we add the Decepticon logo, we have the final image on the computer at this point so we can mess around with placement and decide that it looks better on the right.
From here its all we have to do is get the design on the mat and colour it….
Yeah thats a tutorial for another time, or you could check out one of my making of videos on my Youtube channel!

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