The return of Tigron Enterprises
Hello, my name’s Shaun Mooney and I’m the Creative lead at Clever Beans. One of my main jobs here is to produce the concept art for the projects we work on and I had the great privilege of helping to design the Tigron K-VSR for the Wipeout Omega collection. Alongside me on this task was a great artist and Wipeout veteran Dan Cook, who helped with the design and built the final game model. Working with Dan was great as he was able to understand what I was trying to achieve with the design and contribute cool design ideas of his own.
I have been a huge fan of the Wipeout series since I was 13 years old and have always wanted to work on the franchise so it was a great honour to finally be able to contribute to this IP.
When designing the Tigron we wanted a process that would allow us to make changes as quickly as possible. Sometimes concept art doesn’t translate as well as you’d hoped once it is realised in 3D. There are lots of considerations to take into account when designing for games and Wipeout was no exception. Whilst a certain design would look good when viewed from multiple angles like the side or front, it didn’t work from another such as directly behind. In Wipeout you spend the majority of the time looking at the back of the ship so we had to make sure that looked just as cool as any other part of the ship. We ended up employing a mix of approaches that allowed us to quickly adjust and refine the design.
I’d start by sketching a rough 2D concept which Dan would use to build a simple, low poly ship and export it into the game engine. We could then fly that ship around in the game and immediately see what worked and what didn’t. I could then take that 3D model and use that as a base to paint over with revised shapes and details to address the issues we’d noticed. Dan could then apply those new ideas to the 3D model and once again take a look at how those changes appeared in the game. We would repeat this process over and over, refining our design until we got it looking just right. Below is a break-down of this process.
At first I didn’t know exactly what ship or team I would be designing so I started by with warm up sketches, getting into character for the task ahead. These concepts are just me playing about with the classic Wipeout design and shapes.
Once we knew we were doing a Tigron ship I started to come up with some ideas and shapes that I felt reflected the characteristics of the team. Tigron were infamously run by a shady crime syndicate whose use of aggressive racing tactics gave them an air of menace in the world of Wipeout.
I tried to reflect that in the shapes of the ship by making it very rugged, its angular sloped armoured panels taking a cue from Russian tank design. Its rear thrusters are the same style and configuration as Russian cold war era rocket design. In essence, we tried to make the thing look as heavy and brutish as possible so no soft flowing curves – just cold, hard, sharp steel!
Dan took these sketches and mocked up a rough 3D model. Once we had that model in game we could see some of the issues with the design. Dan reworked the central chassis to be wider and less pointy, making many other minor adjustments as he went, but we still weren’t happy with it.
I took the model and began pushing and pulling verts and edges until we ended up with a much better overall shape while maintaining the original design ideas.
At this point we were feeling fairly confident with the overall shape and design. It looked cool from every angle except one, the in-game view! We found that one particular area of the ship was compromising the cool shape when viewed from the back – the joins between the wings and the cockpit. I took the rough mock up and started sketching ideas over the problem area, even trying to incorporate air intakes but never quite being finding an ideal solution.
After going back and forth on this for a few days, Dan suggested that maybe the simplest answer is the best and just ripped out the polys in that area. When we then play tested that new shape it all just clicked. Happy with the finished shape and the view from all angles I did a paint-over of the latest 3D render to give us our final concept.
And here is the final paint-over, created using custom brushes in Photoshop. This is the easiest part of the job in my opinion, once you’ve ironed out any kinks in the design process you can just relax and get on with the job of painting colours, lighting and textures.
The final job was to deliver the alternative liveries for the craft, we wanted to make sure that the famous Black and Yellow of the old Tigron from previous games was represented, so here’s a screenshot of the final in game model, sporting the classic black and yellow “industrial” livery.