ARS THANEA DISCUSSES THE CREATION OF THIS CG ARTWORK FOR THE GHOST RECON VIDEOGAME SERIES, EXPLAINING HOW PHOTOSHOP WAS APPLIED ALONGSIDE 3D SOFTWARE Ars Thanea is a studio revered for its visualisation in the gaming industry. Over the years this expertise has led to the studio developing artwork for companies such as Sony PlayStation, CD Projekt RED and Ubisoft. The studio s ability to deliver outstanding finished products, while building strong relations in the wider industry, led to it obtaining this videogame project from long-term client Ubisoft San Francisco. Ars Thaneateam of creatives was tasked with creating visuals and animation for the upcoming launch of Ghost Recon Online. Ars Thanea travelled to visit the client in San Francisco to talk about the creative direction of the project. Very soon a series of key visuals were produced and used as online promotion for the title. As an extension, these visuals had to be animated, which Ars Thanea s multi-talented team achieved convincingly. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT THE THEME OF THIS IMAGE? The client wanted to capture a thrilling image of war, which greatly corresponded with existing Ghost Recon merchandise. Ghost Recon Online is about teamwork, which is why you can see the whole squad present in the image, with varying soldier classes. This underlines the diversity of the in-game equipment. In this image we also used the classic Ghost Recon brand colour, cyan. The client was really thrilled with the outcome. HOW IMPORTANT WERE THE LIGHTING EFFECTS? Setting the mood for the image was achieved using various kinds of lighting. The same image with different lighting would tell a completely different story and convey a different mood. To fit with the brand and the theme of urban warfare we used very high-contrast lighting. Imagine a scene with loads of explosions and fires on the streets, all happening at once. With so much action and energy, the lighting choice had to be right [in order to] promote this mood. CAN YOU TELL US WHAT YOUR MAIN STYLISTIC INSPIRATIONS WERE? Huge inspiration for this image came from the existing game itself. All the textures that were used in-game —the buildings, map obstacles —were included in the image. We wanted the visual to be as close to the game as possible. We also found reference photography, from various regions, that captured war. HOW WERE THE HOLOGRAPHIC VISUALS CREATED IN THIS IMAGE? The holographic details are a crucial part of each image that belongs to the Ghost Recon brand. It s the mark that separates [the series] from any other war-themed game. All of the holographs resemble the floating 3D interfaces that are in the game. They underline the interactivity of the whole team [and] the commands you can give. Every holographic detail was produced in Photoshop as a flat layer, which was then later distorted and adjusted to fit the final image. WHICH 3D/CG SOFTWARE WAS USED TO CREATE PROJECT ASSETS AND WHY? We received low-poly models of the characters that were exported straight from the game. We used 3ds Max and ZBrush to refine the ground characters first. HDRI Light Studio was used as always, as ita great companion for lighting up the scene. All textures were painted in with Photoshop CS5. HOW DID PHOTOSHOP HELP THE PROJECT? Photoshop CS5 was [utilised] at the very beginning to create concepts and colour-script work. As we moved to further stages of production, all textures for our 3D models were painted in the application as well. The biggest Photoshop procedure was compositing all of the 3D-rendered layers, as well as making a photomanipulated battleground city. The process required many blending layer options as well as Brightness/Contrast adjustment layers to fit together various stocks. After the composition was done we used the software for colour grading. We added much more cyan and improved contrasts of the entire scene to achieve more drama. HAS THIS WORK INSPIRED FUTURE PROJECT IDEAS? IF SO CAN YOU SHARE THESE? This was the perfect example of a project that helped us improve our pipeline for high-detailed and complex 3D visuals. It has also inspired us to push forward the same styles and we ve just finished a second [piece], an animation for the Ghost Recon Online series.

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