Grand Space Opera: Light Age Environment Design Winners Interview

1st Place Grand Space Opera: Light Age – Environment Design: Alexandr Melentiev

In a production environment, beautiful, fully-rendered environment concepts serve to sell the overall mood of a space. Environment Design submissions to the Grand Space Opera: Light Age challenge were primarily inspirational pieces, with devices like camera angle, colour choice, lighting, and depth-of-field all serving to inform what the imagined spaces felt like. Callouts of the rendered environments served to show the design process behind each location.

See all Environment Design submissions

We had the chance to ask Environment Design winners Alexandr Melentiev and Edward Barons about their creative universes.


Can you talk about the concept for your submission?

Alexandr: I wanted to combine culture and the future. Recently, I was doing concepts for a Chinese company and I really liked their round house-cities. I thought it was a great topic.

I also have long wanted to make tree houses. The swamp appeared on its own; at first I wanted to make a field of grass. When the swamp appeared, the swamp inhabitants appeared. Of course, every picture must have a story. I have a caravan coming from another village, and the characters are energy collectors.

Edward: The basic idea was to have the different environments showing opposite ideas: destruction and restoration. I came up with a mini narrative for myself revolving around alien worlds being stripped of resources and bought to the edge of destruction, with someone who used to help find mining worlds coming back to try and fix what they’d done. I wanted to show that idea by having these giant structures at odds with the world around them doing opposite things. One destroys and the other rebuilds, which became the mining platform and the terraforming platform. The initial idea came from a song lyric, “giants descending, the destroyer of worlds”, the imagery of which I always really liked. From there I tried to think of what someone would describe as a giant destroyer of worlds, which slowly evolved into the idea for the mining platforms and the narrative.

2nd Place Grand Space Opera: Light Age – Environment Design: Edward Barons

What was your strategy for completing your submission on time?

Alexandr: Usually I make several concepts at the same time for different projects (there are nine such projects now). I gave myself four hours a week for this challenge.

Edward: I knew that I’d have to fit it around work and time would be a little tight. Starting early, keeping consistent, and setting time aside to focus on it was important. I also find that spending a bit of time early on figuring out what I want the project to be and setting some guiding principles helps focus the work, particularly in the sketching phase where it’s easy to waste time and get lost with all the possibilities.

3rd Place Grand Space Opera: Light Age – Environment Design: Chaehyeon Ra

What was your biggest learning experience while participating in the challenge?

Alexandr: I really love challenges. This is an opportunity to see how other artists think and do. I look at them and try to understand: ‘Why did they do this, and not otherwise?’ This is the most important thing.

Edward: Probably learning more about my own process and being more efficient in my decision making. I’ve definitely picked up some new workflow ideas and processes by following along with other artists involved in the challenge.

1st Place Grand Space Opera: Light Age – Environment Design: Alexandr Melentiev

What advice do you have for future challengers?

Alexandr: Study, study, and study again. And look at a lot of other pictures.

Edward: Start early and make the challenge your own. Something that helps me is trying to come up with an idea for a world or a very rough story to use as a guide. No matter how silly or cliché, I have something that can keep me on track. But mainly just try and have fun! The briefs are usually open enough for you to add your ideas and bring the sort of things you enjoy doing, so do that! Seeing all the awesome work and the different ways that everyone interprets the brief is one of the best things about the challenge.

2nd Place Grand Space Opera: Light Age – Environment Design: Edward Barons

3rd Place Grand Space Opera: Light Age – Environment Design: Chaehyeon Ra

Don’t miss the other interviews in this series!


  • Share this article

About the author