Developer Spotlight: Marleen Vijgen

Steggs

Community Manager
Frontier
It's Tuesday, Park Managers, which of course means it's time for our second developer spotlight!

For anyone new to developer spotlights, this is a four part series in which we'll be highlighting some of the incredible people working hard on Jurassic World Evolution every single day! We'll have a written post every Tuesday, followed by a behind-the-scenes photo on Wednesday, and a livestream on Thursday.


Please put your Iguanodon thumbs together for:


Marleen Vijgen, Graduate Character Artist.




Hi everyone,


Great to be here! I’m Marleen, a Graduate Character Artist and I’ve been at Frontier for just over half a year. I joined right after I finished my MA of game art and design, and I’ve been really enjoying it here; everyone’s always working incredibly hard and there’s always a buzz of excitement in the air for what we’re working on!


My daily focus is on making the actual dinosaurs, which is a big team effort, most of them are worked on by several artists. As a Character Artist, I spend most of my time either sculpting in 3D, or painting textures and materials, which is great because that's exactly what I came here to do; focus on the most creative parts of the work. The artists around me are very talented and the friendly environment gives easy opportunities to get and give feedback to each other so we can improve what we are doing together as a team.


Creating a character in Jurassic World Evolution can be a fairly involved process, but it needs time for all of the different components to come together and make a truly awe-inspiring dinosaur! Most times we start sculpting and designing the dinosaur in zBrush, this gives us the opportunity to easily design very high resolution characters. Then from this high detail model we create a low detail model to make sure that it is able to run in the game. Using Substance painter we then add all the scales and wrinkles by hand to the material. After this we create the colour map and finally, we adjust the colour variations and damages and to make sure everything looks good in the game. Meanwhile the low detail model is sent off to rigging and animation so they can bring the dinosaur to life!


I think my favourite thing to do is work on dinosaurs from scratch. It’s always really interesting to find out which dinosaurs are selected to be created, we try to make sure we’re picking dinosaurs that would excite the players, so it’s great to see everyone’s reactions when they get released. Each of the dinosaurs gets a little bit of personality, like my personal favourite, the Spinoraptor, I love its evil little smile! As a character artist, I really appreciate how it looks, the blending of colour and scales fit the dinosaur really well.


One of the biggest challenges we face as character artists on Jurassic World Evolution is creating dinosaurs that don't appear in the films. We have to be mindful of how the dinosaurs could have looked had they featured in the films, and at the same time how they could have looked in real life. It’s not as tough for the dinosaurs that were in the movies, as we know what they should look like and Universal has been incredibly helpful in providing source material when it's available, but for dinosaurs that aren’t in the movies we need to design something new. Sometimes there isn’t a lot of known information about the dinosaur, or the skeletons might show contradictory details, like having four fingers or three, or even entirely different arms! In those cases the Art Director does a lot of research on all of the skeletal remains that are available, as well as referencing similar creatures to figure out the best way to design the character to ensure it matches the game.


I’ve learned a lot since working on Jurassic World Evolution. While we have the dinosaurs from the movies as references, we also tend to look at a lot of modern day animals to see how patterns, scales and colour could have looked on the dinosaurs we are designing. We also need to know a lot about certain dinosaurs in order to create a realistic model of one. During the development of the project I’ve learned how different dinosaurs lived and behaved in their environments. It might sound easy to just copy an existing design for a dinosaur, but even with current research there is a lot that has to be filled in by the artist. In order to make them as "true to life" as possible, but also to fit them into Jurassic World Evolution, we have to know a lot about the paleontological research surrounding a particular species.


If anyone is thinking about becoming a character artist, the games industry might seem like a tough industry, but it is really very friendly as I have discovered here at Frontier; everyone is always supportive, and happy to help. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Artists are lucky that they don’t really need any university qualifications, which makes it possible for everyone to enter the industry, no matter what age or qualifications. If this is your passion, work for it and create your portfolio! It’s one of the most important things you need to enter the industry. I believe it is never too late to start working on your dream!


Well, thanks for having me, everyone! This community is incredibly passionate, I absolutely love how you're able to recreate scenes and settings from the movies within the game. When looking around on the Reddit to see the community’s creations I’m always amazed by the skill you show!

Thanks,

Marleen



You can say hello to Marleen on this Thursday's livestream at 12PM UTC over on twitch.tv/frontierdevelopments. If you have any questions about being a Character Artist or working on Jurassic World Evolution, please feel free to pop them on the thread below.
 
Hello Marleen! and hello Steggs! I hope you are feeling better :)
I would like to say thank you and the art team in designing these dinosaurs. They are amazing to have in game, and I would lose hours of my game time just looking at these dinosaurs and mixing the different skins to create my own ecosystems.

I have a question: What was it like to work on the dreadnoughtus? It is a dinosaur that is cannon in the movies but not really shown, did universal provide you with the details of this dinosaur? My favorite feature is it being the only sauropod in game with cheeks! Very interesting XD.
 
Hi Marleen (and Steggs),
Thanks for this testimony. I work in a creative field myself and I know how exciting it is to have a job that requires using our imagination!
I have a question for you : did some artists at Frontier already have a passion for paleontology or did you have to learn everything about it for the needs of the game?
 

Lora Craft69

Volunteer Moderator
Hi Marleen, looking forward to the livestream and more dinosaurs in the future.

Steggs, I hope you're feeling much better.
 
Hi Marleen - thanks for all your hard work recreating some of my favourite dinosaurs. You have done an incredible job and I am glad to see you are part of the Frontier team!
 
As someone who also makes dinosaurs, this interview is really cool to see. Even if I think some of the models for the animals missed the mark (Carchar, Dread, etc.), I can tell that a lot of hard work went into making the animals themselves.

Also, paleontology is dinosaurs and archaeology is human remains
 
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If there is something JWE excels at, than it's the Dinosaur designs. So a big thanks you to you and the whole designer team for doing an amazing job.[up]
 
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