North Kingdom project — This spring I was involved in a really fun project for a Google Maps and LEGO® as a Art/Design director with focus on the build section. The whole concept is about you building LEGO creations on a map of Australia (LEGO turns 50 years in Australia this year), where you claim your own spot on the map. It´s called “Build with Chrome”. I have always been a huge LEGO fan so it was a great project to be involved in! The result was pretty OK, specially the “builder” that rocks big time with an amazing programming solution, but the limitations of how we could use/hack the Google map pulled down the result a little, I think.
A rough mock up by Alfredo Aponte, our User Experience Designer. He was the guy solving the seemingly impossible.
LEGO Digital Designer is a program you can download for free to build complex LEGO models. A program that became a close reference about what we was going to build. However, this program was in our eyes to complicated and to hard to use, so our focus was to make our “builder” much more easy and playful to use.
Klas Kroon, our programmer and the brain behind the builder, made lot of different prototypes and developments. These prototypes helped us to early see what we could do and not. The client described his work as ‘like Christmas morning waking up to see what North Kingdom had delivered next’.
“Having recently worked with particles, my mindset was set to that.. So my initial idea was to treat the LEGO bricks as particles or several particles makes up a brick, etc.. The idea is to use a sprite/particle of the smallest brick and so on. 1 vertex = 1 sprite. So this is not “real” 3d, but more isometric/ortographic, no perpective. Here´s the first test, so you can see what I mean:
One of the early ideas was to have some sort of terrain variation, here´s a test of that:
(Mousedown and drag left/right to rotate, arrowkeys to pan) Isometric 5 (flipped)
… So I tried with the more classical approach, that is more on par with the LEGO Digitial Designer, which is really nice, but it’s more advanced and more “cad” than what we were aiming for here. Builder 2
One that tested autosaving with local storage. Builder 4
Above are my first mock ups on the same screen. We all wanted a very simple solution regarding “the builder”, therefor I thought a clean open design would match that idea when we also had Google to think about. Some big juicy LEGO bricks would make it more playful and interesting, we still want it to feel LEGO right?
Final interface design by Jonas Eriksson.
We also did a LEGO version on the Google mnemonic; a 3 seconds 3D animation. Conceptually; very simply idea with a Google logotype explode into LEGO bricks that would go around its core, but it was for sure little tricky to get correct. Above you see my rough direction of how I saw it would work.
Mathias Lindgren, our 3D artist, put it alive in 3D Studio Max.
The game was going to be based on the Netguys TVC, filmed in London 2011, for the German market. The story follows four guys that helps you out, everywhere. Four guys that corresponded to the four network bars found on Vodafone mobile phones.
— The question for us was; what should we do? And how? The time was very limited.
The client asked for a simple and engaging web-based game and we wanted to push the boundaries for that by looking at a 3D solution so we got our inspiration from games like “Canabalt” and “Mirror’s Edge” for iPhones. The image above represent the first day work on the visual, trying to figure out what we will actually will see. We know the game would be in 3D, but we had to get our ideas down on paper.
NORTH KINGDOM PROJECT — Weetakid, an intergalactic mobile gameplay for kids, is a concept made by BBH London for Weetabix, which is a popular whole grain wheat breakfast cereal in England. The assignment for North Kingdom was to create a mobile game with an AR solutution connected to the cereal package.
I myself wasn’t so much involved as I use to be in this kind of projects when BBH London was in charge of the overall feeling, Yum Yum (London) made the characters and 3d, and Zoink Games (Gothenburg) took care of the games, including game bible.
My role was pretty much to take care of the first look and feel, concept designs, covers and some interface design/ mock ups. The final production was so so in my eyes… but it has some cool visuals so I thought it could be fun to keep it here on the blog for the future. The image above, with the three iPhones, have I done in Cinema 4D.
For a couple of days ago we put up our first Black Leakage wall sticker and it was much easier then I thought. This first one is placed in my sisters apartment who lives pretty close to me in Stockholm.
Last month we received the first photos of the woodbot prototypes from the factory in Hong Kong. However, it was first now I found time for feedback (yes it is a side project) so hopefully I will see a new version of these guys soon. The biggest issue right now is the small details, specially the hands. So I am very excited to see what solutions they have on my feedback. Do we need to redesign or do we need to find another solution? Plan B is to make the hands in plastic.
Concept art by North Kingdom (Robert Lindström & Mathias Lindgren). Deer by Mirada.
Three screenshots from the final work and the landingpage of ROME, everything made with webGL.
Read more about the projecthere and check out the huge making of article at our North Kingdom blog here. This post on Designchapel only concerns my involvement and my personal notes.
A couple of weeks ago we launched a little different project from North Kingdom called ROME, an interactive music video made in webGL from Google Chrome. To learn more about the technique you can read more at ROME technology site.
I wasn’t so super involved myself unfortunately when it was the music director who was in charge of all the visual stuff. I only did some early concept drawings together with our 3D artist Mathias Lindgren and some design directions on the website. These pictures will I show here below.
The beautifully Norah Jones, one of my favorites, is singing “3 Dreams of Black” in this interactive music video with Jack White from Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi’s album ROME.
Some really early concept drawings. I had an idea of a mirror world underneath the surface, a more twisted version of the dream world.
“A dark world is found under the surface, as if you would look under the water’s edge. This dark, odd, bizarre world contains a mirror image of the “real” world but within another shape. Here will you find the dark soup. A soup that could have same style in all three dark worlds.”
WORK IN PROGRESS — This autumn I got an amazing assignment from Rob Ford at FWA; to design four prints for their awards.
The basic idea was to make something that would look good on your wall, and even better if you would have a collection. Rob Ford wanted to have a different award certificate for FWA, a vision I liked very much. However, the design have to be simple in a way, when it still is an award. You should be proud of it, and not feeling that you have a piece of art on the wall you maybe don’t like. The typeface and the design are taken from the FWA digital award ribbons, which made me start thinking of knitting, which also looks like pixel art in a way. Both knitting and pixelart are just handcraft, which matched the idea perfect when the projects you see on FWA are filled with that
Some lines from the brief;
“They could all be the same format but with a slightly different colour style to resemble the level of award. I’ve attached all of the award ribbons in case they help in any way and I have also attached the FWA logo in eps format.”
“I have thought in the past how it might be cool to have a 3D trophy image on the award certificate but I really have no requirements on the design style or idea. Of course, FWA is all about being progressive, original and innovative so I’m sure you will have that in mind anyway.”
(The award would not come with a wooden frame btw, I just wanted to see how it would look like.)
The four certificates — SOTM (Site Of the Month, SOTY (Sity Of The Year), PC (People’s Choice) and SOTD (Site Of The Day). I added some awards from us at North Kingdom to see how it could look like.
SOTM, SOTY and PC will be printed and sent over. SOTD will be available for downloading. Some test prints will be made next week.
WORK IN PROGRESS, NORTH KINGDOM — Right now we at North Kingdom are doing a really cool, but still secret, project for a client in USA. One part of the assignment is to build our special designed character in real. I have never been involved in physical character building before, but I had Tobias Allanson in mind during our whole creative concept period. Tobias, who’s from my hometown Skellefteå, created a character called Gorg for Ingemar Backmans snowboard company Allian for 8-9 years ago. A very adorable character I just loved. Backman is also the co-founder of the very cool clothing brand WeSC.
These photos did I take yesterday at Allansons studio here in Stockholm. Our character is very naked for the moment (which is good, otherwise I couldn’t show him) but at least you can see some technical solutions which looks pretty cool. More to come…
WORK IN PROGRESS — SSC Skellefteå will build the physical building for Woodbot Pilots which hopefully will be in place mid December. I visited SSC this Monday discussing material and here is the “blueprint” I just received in my mail. Personally I haven’t worked so much on the project the last three weeks when I have been working in other projects, but it is pretty much about programming now. However, next week I hopefully will find some time to design the game graphics.
We have continue to make Behind the Scene for our projects. It is a great way for us to build our culture and it is hopefully fun to see for others. Here is material from the making of two recent projects from North Kingdom;
I have just finished mine and Kenny Lindströms kitchen illustration, so tomorrow I will send it to the printhouse because instead of paint it we will print, just to save some time. The main idea was to mix our styles.
My work was concept, copy, making the lady and put everything together. The idea is also to make a black stain on the table underneath
where the coffee is pouring. When I wrote the copy I wanted to achieve a feeling that the picture is taken from a saga, a story (not final);
“Her coffee smelt nice, but it felt like somebody was watching her. It was chilly outside and the aroma of the coffee now had a touch of salt. Like a deep lake of oil, her drink now took on a new dimension. Another side of the kingdom was now presented.”
— Work in progress
The illustration is made on a Cintiq 12WX, based on a photography I took a couple of years ago. When the plan was to paint everything we wanted a clean and simple illustration, which we kept even if it now will be printed.
Kenny Lindströms beautiful octopus. Original file in illustrator above. Below after my coloring.
Michael Ballack, the captain of the German national soccer team, concentrating before a film shoot and Rene Adler, the goalkeeper, is doing an interview in front of our scenography. Cologne, September 2009. A couple of exciting days for us from North Kingdom when the film shoots for Adidas Teamgeist took place.
Here is my personal thoughts and pictures from this autumn. These “Making of” parts have been very important for me to me to keep when I want to collect parts of the process, which never is seen in the final result and to have something to look back on when we work with new projects in the future. Working as an Art Director for this kind of projects can be pretty difficult. Big complex game campaigns for big brands, where lot of different parts runs parallel. You need to keep everything in the same style and quality, and you always have a client with very high expectations. Times like that, the most important is to have a well working team, which we have in North Kingdom! Many of us at NK have been working together over ten years so we know each other very well. Nobody is afraid to say what he or she thinks. A project will never turns out good if people in the team don’t say what they have in mind. It is so true that the details will betray you, so when Marcus Ivarsson (our Project Manager) said “Every single pixel need love” I couldn’t agree more.
I’m pretty happy with the final result. The sound and voice overs are absolute fantastic! DinahMoe did a great job! They handled all sound dynamically at runtime, all integrated and affecting each other. Visually it is almost perfect. With little more time I think we could make the game itself a little harder in the last two chapters and with more variations. But still, we had over 500,000 games played the first three weeks, chosen FWA Site of the Month, and a very happy client, which is most important. However, I have to admit I wasn’t totally sold about the game idea, the strategic style, but it gave me even more reason to try to make it as visual outstanding as possible.
My first rough concept drawings from August 2009, showing how the white takeover would look like, how the players would transform to these white “ghosts” without any identity, history or power.
During the project I worked with two very talented illustrators; Therese Larsson (intern at North Kingdom), who did the covers and Anton Eriksson, who was in charge of backgrounds, based on our 3D sketches. The graphic novel style came from 180 Amsterdam who did the very cool “Spark” movie for Adidas earlier this year, which gave Adidas a new mystic, dark feeling. I wasn’t so fond of the rest of the campaign they did, when their graphic novel style was too lame and to regular. Adidas let us make our own style within the genre which we both loved and thought would be necessary for a great outcome. Basically I got free hands with my illustrators. Why can’t all clients be like that?
Here above you can see the design in progress for the first room: The Freezer. It is a test where you have to save two persons of four, or can you maybe solve the test different? Check out the Behind the Scene part here below.
The process for making DCHPL-2 have been long, very long. The goal has not been the final result but just the process. To take time and learn new stuff! To sit down and think; what do I want to try? Here is some sketches and ideas I have had during these years I have been working with this. Sometimes it have been three four months between each time I have open the Designchapel folder, sometimes even more. And yes, it can be very frustrating to not launch the ship, to ask yourself “Will I never ever finish this?”, but somehow, you have to tell yourself also “Well, it is just a bloody webpage. Focus on what you think is fun, nothing else!”. It can be hard many times to not be stressed, but during my years in this branch you have to think on your social life as well, otherwise you will never stay long in the business.
This spring I have been working with our showreel for North Kingdom´s first 5 years. The reel itself has a small story built in with a branded main character who sits down with a magic black flower. On the pictures above you can see my concept sketches on the girl and a picture from the shooting in Stockholm from June.
When we worked directly with Coca Cola for The Coke Zero Game project, the whole process took a while when we did everything from idea and concept to the whole production. Here will you find photos I took from the filmday and some work in progress.
Me and David Eriksson (CD/CEO, North Kingdom) had for a long time wanted a project where we could build something physical, something you have not seen earlier, and when we first heard about the new Got Milk? project we understood that this would be the project! I guess Goodby thought we where a little bit crazy in the beginning but when we described the idea they loved the idea.
This illustration is based of a photo I have got from Vasava (Barcelona, Spain). First I draw all nodes in Photoshop (I like the speed better there) by hand and then colored in Illustrator and finally back in Photoshop for final coloring.