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On this Development Blog, you can see the seconad part of how our Concept Artist gntlemanartist is creating the art of Dune: War of the Spice.

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Sifting the Sands - Part 2

God created Arrakis to train the faithful.
Welcome back. Last week I talked a little bit about sketching as a tool for idea development. Today I'm going to talk about how you then take that rough design and flesh it out into something presentable.

Stage A - The clean drawing

The example I'm going to use is the development of the Harkonnen Dragon Tank, since it went through several iterations before I arrived at the final version. While I was developing the design I was asking myself key questions that the design needed to satisfy. I asked, "How does this thing move?", "What kind of weaponry does it carry and how does it store the ammunition?", "What kind of visual impression do I want to give the viewer?"

I knew that the Dragon was a flame-throwing tank so it needed to be able to spray a burning chemical mixture. I researched some flame-thrower designs and found they usually contain one or two chemical tanks with a propellant and a built-in ignition source. Knowing this, I reasoned that this tank would need large pressurized containers and a means to deliver them. In looking for possible form inspirations I looked at WWI tank designs and American Civil War-era gun sleds since they have a kind of heavily armored but slightly primitive or retro technology appeal that would work well with the exposed tread style we had used previously in the Harkonnen Aggressor Tank. Since these designs are part of a visual family I wanted to make sure that they shared some style elements without being too similar.

So this was the first cleaned up drawing of the Dragon tank:

This was drawn directly into Photoshop using a Wacom Cintiq tablet screen and I used standard perspective drawing conventions; you can still see many of the construction lines visible in the drawing on the left. The drawing on the right is a copy with the materials blocked out in appropriate colors. I do this so that I can get a sense of the visual rhythm of the shapes. After looking at it, the team and I decided that it wasn't working for several reasons. It was too small-looking and not intimidating, the cockpit design didn't really work and it appeared to be a lower tech level than the Aggressor. Sometimes a drawing doesn't turn out the way you anticipated or, while technically proficient, doesn't hit the mark in terms of design. This is ok, and it's a necessary step in design development. Try not to become too attached to your work because you may be forced to abandon it and go in a new direction. Keep these old ideas (you may be able to use them on another project) but always remember that your job is to serve the visual needs of the story and anything that doesn't meet those goals needs to be revised.

So I went back to the metaphorical drawing board and reconsidered my overall form. This tank is going to be slow-moving and rely on its armor for protection while it trundles around, so I took inspiration from the shape of a turtle. I widened the body and upgraded to two chemical tanks instead of one, which necessitated moving the treads around. I stumbled upon the idea of dividing the treads into front and back with two in the front and one in the back between the tanks. A unique and distinctive configuration and not something I've ever seen except perhaps on a snow-mobile.

This design worked much better but there was still something not quite right about it. Eventually I figured out that the front cockpit was still not working, the round shape was still at odds with the overall angular aesthetic and was competing with it instead of complementing it. So I modified it once again to the final flat slitted window. Finally we had a design that felt right and looked very dangerous and unique.

Stage B - The final painting

This is where the fun part begins.
Since I had already blocked out the material color groups on different layers in Photoshop, I could easily paint on these layers individually without affecting the others. I begin by assigning a tone to each of the major surfaces according to the light source I picked. It's important to keep it consistent as I paint in each material accurately, one at a time. I always paint dark-to-light, since it's much harder to get shadows and highlights to layer correctly otherwise and I I use custom brushes for rust, grit, verdigris and grime, made from looking at images of different kinds of metal and then trying to replicate them.

I then paint overall lighting, shadows or effects on top and add any photographic textures on separate layers as well. Bring in the background and you're done.


Hope you have enjoyed seeing a little bit about how the concept art for Dune:War of the Spice is created and I look forward to bringing you more as soon as I can.

D:WS Art Director, Concept Artist


We hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek into the development of Dune: War of the Spice. To track our work, please use the buttons at the bottom of this post. We aim to post regular monthly updates as we have new work to show.

Dune: War of the Spice is a new fully original Real Time Strategy game loosely based on the Dune novels of Frank Herbert and following in the footsteps of such games as Emperor: Battle for Dune and Dune II: Building of a Dynasty. The game follows the exploits and conflict between the three Great Houses of the Atreides, Harkonnen and Ordos in their fierce battle for power and control of the Imperium, as well as a number of Subhouses that try to use the conflict to their own advantage.

We’ve been concentrating on the Harkonnen faction for the time being and hope to add new art for the others as our output increases, we’re always on the look-out for talented 2D and 3D artists to contribute. For information on joining the project please click here.

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Looks freakin' amazing. Nice drawing process.

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Is it just me or does it look like a Warhammer 40K Landraider? I'm not saying its intentional, but it is a funny coincidence... still looks good though.

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I dunno, if you're going to reference something in Dune then 40K is a good thing to reference - it references Dune a bit in the back story.

It's lovely how ever you slice it, though. I always did like the look of the Rhino.

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If you've watched any of the Dune films or played any previous Dune games then you'd know that the aesthetic style is consistent with the setting.

If you have already then I apologize if I sound condescending.

That aside, it certainly looks like this has potential.

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Yeh, the final design does look alot like a Land Raider (in particular the flame-spewing Redeemer variant)...but that's okay, the Land Raider does have a cool design. So long as the Harkonnen vehicle army doesn't end up looking entirely like a Space Marine Tank Regiment, it's all good ^_^.

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