Worklog — how to create an art wall.

Art management time! Has anyone created a wall grid full of printed art assets for basic tracking and visualization? How did you do it and what did you track? I decided to design a system for that today.

I do all my project tracking in Shotgun (www.shotgunsoftware.com) but I like the idea of a wall to visualize relationships between sets, with really limited tracking indications that map to asset-specific tasks.

Let’s choose a standard 8.5 x 11 piece of paper to print on. That’s 2550 x 3300 pixels at 300dpi. Let’s see how many figures (characters in this case) we can fit onto a sheet. The practical considerations here are:

1) Scale. How many can I fit onto one sheet and still be meaningful? If it’s too few it’ll take up too much wall space. If it’s too many it’ll make looking at it difficult. We can also use either portrait or landscape mode, depending on the proportions of the image. Additionally, if there are too many and you’re printing updates, if you update more than one asset in a sheet you’ll be printing up new pages all the time.

portrait:
5×4 grid: 510×825
3×3 grid: 850×1100
2×3 grid: 1275×1100
2×2 grid: 1275×1650

2) Buffer room at the edges in case you’re using a paper cutter. Do EVERYTHING you can to size it correctly so you don’t have to use a paper cutter to correct it. Trust me, I’ve been down that road.

3) Buffer room at either the top center (for magnets) or in the corners (for push-pins) so you’re not covering up information.

4) Clearly labeled asset name with stroke around text, for easier visibility in all conditions. I like white text in Impact with a black border, or inverted colors if necessary.

5) Limited colors so we don’t waste printer ink.

6) Character is on a neutral RGB 128 grey background, but outside of those bounds it’s white. This saves ink, and prevents the painful contrast of looking at a character with a bright white background. That’ll distort your perception of color and values. (note: I’m using a placeholder since I can’t show any of my game’s assets.)

7) Stroked inside edges of the image. This’ll aid in snapping them correctly (although you should be using Guides) and cutting them out, if you absolutely have to.

8) When you print, make sure to Scale to Fit Media otherwise it’ll clip the edges by default.

9) Clear indications of asset status at the bottom that you can mark with a ballpoint pen or Sharpie. I have “R C B S T I,” which stands for “Ref – Concept – Blockout – Sculpt – Texture – Ingame.”

After several experiments, this is what I ended up with:

charsheet

This is what 4 of them on an 8.5×11 sheet looks like:

charsheet_final

And this is what all my experiments look like on the wall:

charsheet_photo

Bottom right is the winner. 🙂 Obviously this is just the start of a LOT of effort, but I feel like I have the design down and have avoided a LOT of pitfalls I’ve subjected myself to in the past.

Hope that was helpful, or at least interesting! I’d really like to hear how your studios do it and if you have any suggestions on a simpler format, or if there’s anything I haven’t covered.

Cheers!

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