Grand Space Opera: Light Age Prop Design Winners Interview
Grand Space Opera: Light Age Prop Design submissions needed to include three props from an alien civilization, along with one alien vehicle design capable of light speed travel or dimension jumping. The three props were allowed to be weapons, tools or structures. Each prop had to tell its own story and be functional in the alien environment.
What’s the concept behind your submission and how did you come to choose it?
Robert: The four designs I created are meant to give insights into the technology, culture and behaviour of a fictional alien race that I came to call Quyb. Initially I was fairly open in my approach and started by doing some sketching and visual brainstorming. I wanted to take the opportunity to do something fun and emotionally relatable, aspects that I felt were lacking in a lot of my previous works. At some point I had a scribble of this little alien creature on my canvas, surrounded by rough sketches of tools and spaceships, and that’s where my idea started taking shape. I knew I wanted to place narrative value and relatability over what was most realistic or cool. I wanted my designs to be windows into this fictional world that started to grow in my head.
Himesh: I have always been fascinated by space and its mysteries, and used to question if life other than us exists out there. I’m a firm believer it exists. I used to study topics like the Kardashev Scale and warp drives quite a lot because they were very interesting to me. When I saw the topic of this challenge, I felt like it was the perfect opportunity for me.
Egor: I love weird designs and retro aesthetics, so I immediately thought about how cool it would be to do a Moebius tribute and started browsing through early science fiction comics and artworks. I really wanted to do something that has that old-school futuristic exploration vibe.
How did you make sure you met the challenge deadline?
Robert: What was essential to meeting the deadline for me was working in iterations. I set stages I wanted to reach for each concept before continuing them. This also helped me to “feel out” the workload for each stage and adjust my planning if necessary. Working in parallel had the additional benefit that if I had ran out of time I would still have been able to submit everything according to the challenge regulations, as all concepts were already there and somewhat presentable during the first weeks. What also helped me was planning with a week of buffer time in mind. In the end I was able to use this week for additional polishing and presentation purposes.
Himesh: I was using 4-5 days for each of the prop designs. I tried setting the designs as early in the stages as possible so I didn’t waste much time in the later refinement stages. You can see I had done a lot of exploration sketches in the beginning.
Egor: I always have time management issues, so for this challenge, I started throwing ideas and making a mood board right after the topic announcement. Also, I tried to flesh out the general ideas fast and then work on further exploration, interesting quirks, and funny little details.
What was your favorite part of working on the challenge?
Robert: My favourite part was the enormous boost of motivation that I experienced. Because I was able to see my own work and that of the other participants slowly growing in the challenge threads I felt a constant sense of progress. I received great feedback, and because I pushed myself to post an update almost daily in my own thread, I experienced a level of awareness and reflection about my work that I think I lack when working on my own. With this challenge it didn’t really feel like I was on my own. It was sort of a new experience for me because I am usually fairly inactive when it comes to online communities.
Himesh: My favourite part was figuring out the design in the early stages and coming up with new ideas and variations as quickly as possible. It’s really fun for me to change and play with the forms inside my head before drawing them out on paper/digital media.
Egor: Exploring various bizarre ideas is the best part! The topic was versatile enough this time to make something really unique (a drone hat – how cool is that?) Also, the part where I had immense toothache for the three days before the deadline and had to overcome it and finish in time.
What advice do you have for future challengers?
Robert: I think I’m in danger of repeating the usual here, but it cannot be stressed enough: be aware of the time you spend and don’t focus on one piece while neglecting the others. There might be a piece that you are particularly fond of and it might become hard to put it aside in favour of something that seems to lack potential, but the latter might still surprise you if you give it the attention it deserves. Also, have a good idea of what you are doing as a whole before you start going into details. This is true for the project in general as well as for each individual piece. One of the biggest mistakes I used to make was to dive into the details without having a clear concept of the bigger picture. By doing that I was basically setting myself up for abandoning projects halfway through.
Himesh: I would say, stick to your own voice and your style of design and try to match that to the brief, because in these challenges you can really show your uniqueness with your ideas. The more different and unique it is the better! I hope this answer helps future challengers, best of luck for the future!
Egor: Try to make your prop design speak for itself, not the lengthy text in the presentation. Don’t be shy to show something odd!
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