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Snowflakes   Leave a comment

I know that I’m behind on showing off my recent game-related work but I thought I’d share something more recent before I get back to normal updates. I decided to make some snowflakes for my grandmother but, while I was making them,  I started thinking about them in terms of art and design so I scanned them in before mailing them off.

4 snowflakes 2011

Paper Snowflakes – 7 December 2011

Making paper snowflakes is a pretty simple craft project. It’s so simple, that it’s often used as an art project in kindergarten classes. You start by folding a sheet of white paper and then cutting geometric shapes out of it to create radially symmetrical patterns that represent falling snow. While the basic idea isn’t very complex, the results sometimes can be, with a bit of time and effort.

As I mentioned, it all starts with folding. Most of the snowflakes I see start with folding a sheet of paper in half twice. Sometimes, a third fold is thrown in. This results in a pattern that either repeats four or eight times. Real snowflakes usually form in hexagon patterns, so, when I’m not lazy or in a hurry, I like to use the more difficult three folds required for a hexagon shape. Instead of folding the paper directly in half length or width wise, I fold it along a diagonal. Then I find the center point of that fold and try to fold it into thirds from there for the two subsequent folds. To get a truly realistic pattern, I’d fold the result in half one more time.

As you can see above, in three out of four of my examples, that the pattern repeats three times, not six, because I left out the extra fold. The obvious reason behind it, beyond laziness, is so I have extra room to create special shapes. The example in the upper right corner would have benefited from the extra fold, since it’s purely geometric, almost fractal.

4 paper snowflakes, still folded

Snowflakes, folded – 7 December 2011

So, what does any of this have to do with design? With enough practice, skill, patience, etc, you can make more and more complex patterns. However, it goes much deeper than that or, rather, it could go much deeper than that if you analyze it from the perspective of a designer.

The easiest place to start is with basic design principles. The most obvious principle to apply here is the balance between positive and negative space. In all these examples there is much more white than black. While that may seem like a good thing, since snow is white, but I’m a bit unhappy with the final products here because the balance seems off to me. I think I’d like to aim for something much closer to 50/50 than what I have here. The larger fields of positive and negative in the tree/snowman (upper left), in my opinion, make for the most balanced and interesting composition of the group. The geometric (upper right) looks worst to me because of the uniformity of the patterns and the lack of negative space. In a previous attempt, years ago, I took the opposite approach and ended up with too much negative space. It ended up looking like a lace doily.

Rather than droning on about it further, as I tend to do until a post is unbearably long, I’ll just post the scans in the order I made them, below:

Paper Snowflake 1 – 6 December 2011

Paper Snowflake 2 – 6 December 2011

Paper Snowflake 3 – 6 December 2011

Paper Snowflake 4 – 7 December 2011

Posted 8 December 2011 by Gameitect in General

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Welcome!   2 comments

Welcome to my new and improved WordPress blog.

My name is Michael Derry. I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Architecture in 2006 but after several years in the field I realized that video game design was a better outlet for my creative and professional passion. I went back to school and received a Bachelor of Fine Art Degree in Game Production in 2012. Construction budgets, building codes, and the very nature of the architecture industry too often make truly creative design the exception, rather than the rule. Without these kinds of limits, I will be able to help design entire worlds, rather than mere office buildings and strip malls. The promise of Architecture, while in school, didn’t live up to the realities of the profession. Even with the difficult economy, I might have simply learned to live with those realities and press on … if I hadn’t discovered the limitless potential of video game design.

I’m looking ahead with a more cautious and, hopefully, more realistic outlook on my new profession. I’ve never believed nor understood the idea that game designers are people who get to play games all day or who have an easy job. My introduction to the industry came through the challenging ‘hobby’ of making game modifications, specifically for TESIV: Oblivion. I found it fascinating and threw myself into all aspects of the mod making process. It was an amazing new creative outlet that reminded me what it was like to create again. Only after a year or two of modding every day after work, and through the encouragement of one of my project team members, did I realize that the hobby I was enjoying so much was also a viable career path. It was well worth considering and seems, now, like it should have been an obvious choice all along.

I have a broad academic foundation. Before beginning my Architecture degree, I took classes in subjects ranging from geology, geography, and weather to fine art and design. Of course, I’ve taken countless design courses, of various types, over the years. Having been exposed to so many seemingly disparate interests, I’ve come to develop a somewhat unique perspective on the world and how it all works together. My current focus in game design is on World Building and the creation of environmental assets. I really enjoy the process of imagining a new world and slowly adding ideas, layer by layer, until the complexity of the system begins to take on a life of its own. Perhaps the most recent updates will force me to go back and change something I thought was amazing but the entire world will be deeper because of it. When it all finally reaches a critical mass and all that’s left is to add detail and ‘flawed realism’, the results can be overwhelming. To look at my own creation as if it were a real place and wonder how it came to be, is a strange and exhilarating feeling. It is a feeling I hope to replicate many more times throughout my career as I enter the video game industry and join creative teams to bring new worlds to life for gamers everywhere to enjoy.

It won’t all be grandiose and exciting. I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me and there will always be room for improvement. Now that you know a little bit about me and where I’m coming from, I need to get back to it. By the time anyone comes along to read this, there will hopefully be plenty of new projects to look at. I intend to update my works in progress on this blog or at least post a recap of most of them to show my process. Eventually, I’ll be able to come back to this page and laugh at myself and be glad about how far I’ve come. Until then, have a look around and enjoy.

Posted 15 March 2011 by Gameitect in General

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