Environment Design Winners Interview — Untamed: When Animals Ruled the World

1st place Untamed: When Animals Ruled the World – Environment Design: Vignesh Gopalakrishnan


Join us for a conversation with Vignesh GopalakrishnanPaul Trochu, and Jin Kim, the Untamed: When Animals Ruled the World Challenge winners in the Environment Design category.

See all Environment Design Submissions

2nd place Untamed: When Animals Ruled the World – Environment Design: Paul Trochu

Taking On the Untamed Challenge

The latest Challenge theme was a perfect creative launching point for the three Environment Design winners, who all found imagining a world where animals/creatures have evolved to be the peak lifeforms on Earth an exciting task:

Vignesh: My primary reason (for joining the Challenge) was due to my friends taking part in it. To me, ArtStation Challenges have always appeared to be a daunting task, and seeing my friends take part gave me the confidence and motivation to tackle this Challenge. The second reason was of course the topic itself; animal-themed civilizations sounded super cool to jump into.

Paul: Challenges are an opportunity to meet people, discuss with them, and push your expectations. The skill level of others can be intimidating, but this is where you learn a lot. The theme of the Challenge is great and fun, it’s an opportunity to play with creativity.

Jin: I was very fascinated by this ArtStation Challenge because of the topic. It was a great opportunity to imagine a world that has animal protagonists. Since it is not a place for human beings, I thought there might be some point that I can try to push myself for the new artworks.

3rd place Untamed: When Animals Ruled the World – Environment Design: Jin Kim

From the Forest to the Sky

The Environment Design winners explored different corners of the natural world, real and imagined, in their submissions.

Vignesh: The first thing I did when I started the project was look up cool facts about animals and I chanced upon a theory about moths using the moon and the stars to orient themselves during navigation. That is what formed the base for my submission. One thing I tried to focus on apart from the design was the storytelling aspect. I wanted to show some kind of event happening in the scenes; a light festival in the village, and a birthing ritual in the inner hollow of the mother tree.

Paul: In this fantasy world, frogs act like humans. For their civilization, I took the inspiration from Japanese forest cemeteries. Such a quiet place, yet full of life with all the small insects and other creatures living around.

Frogs go through a cemetery for a pilgrimage, like humans do with St Jacques de Compostelle. The journey finishes in a sanctuary, a calm area, for our dear travellers to rest their jumping legs. The place was inspired by Japanese gardens, where the gardeners work each element to feel safe and restful. I placed the sanctuary in the heart of the forest, to feel deep in nature.

For their own creations, frogs work with simple shapes that remind us of their eyes, fingers, toes, and extended vocal sacs. I also wanted some of their sculptures to be more abstract, as humans don’t always use humanoid shapes in cemeteries. Our frogs have a similar logic, creating abstract-looking sculptures that would mean something to them.

Jin: I was focused on the theme of the animal world where humans have disappeared. It’s time to think about why people disappeared. I wondered if there could be a world where only small animals survived if humans became extinct due to climate change. Little creatures don’t need much to survive. To add to the bleakness, I envisioned an environment made up of stones, excluding many plants that exist on Earth.

1st place Untamed: When Animals Ruled the World – Environment Design: Vignesh Gopalakrishnan

Staying on Target

Making a schedule and finding support from other participants helped our winners stay on target through the course of the Challenge’s tight schedule.

Vignesh: Honestly, staying on target was difficult for me, as I was only free during the evenings. I had to slowly chip away at it during the week and go all-nighter mode during weekends. Seeing my friends’ and other contestants’ updates, along with Challenge host Randall‘s encouraging posts, definitely helped me to stay focused to finish the Challenge.

Paul: I made a schedule and stuck to it. I planned in advance each general step with allocated time, as well as time budgeted for unexpected changes.

Jin: As an artist with a full-time job, my schedule for the Challenge couldn’t be relaxed. That’s why, from the very beginning, I started with a basic idea that was unshakable. In my case, it helped a lot to remember that only stones are left behind in this environment. It is always important to collect as many relevant real-world environmental references as possible. Once you start with the strong main idea, the next steps can go much faster.

2nd place Untamed: When Animals Ruled the World – Environment Design: Paul Trochu

Advice for Future Challengers

Vignesh: Don’t stress out. Stress can be a huge hurdle for a lot of people, especially young artists…be it a deadline or looking at some “godly” submissions, suddenly your submission seems crappy in your eyes. The best way to avoid that is to focus only on your work, and when you do look at other people’s work, do it briefly. Just focus on your work and give it your 100%.

Paul: Once you pick your goal, explore your idea as deeply as you can and do not be scared to ask other people for feedback!

Jin: The great thing about the ArtStation Challenge is that you can see many different approaches from all over the world working on the same subject. I hope you enjoy the process of coming up with ideas. And I think just completing the Challenge is meaningful enough. The theme of the Challenge lets us step out of the safe zone and allows us to try new things.

3rd place Untamed: When Animals Ruled the World – Environment Design: Jin Kim

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