CyberRunner, a project inspired by the incredible works of Mike Pondsmith, Syd Mead and David Snyder, encapsulates an audience in ways designer, Josh Van Zuylen, never thought it would.

The ultimate goal for Josh was to stand alongside these high-profile legends that helped to create the dystopian science fiction culture. This project strongly connects with the dark urban underworld and throughout, showcases a virtual monolithic city with hidden stories written in neon and scratched paint, offering mystery on every corner. “I was obsessed with the theme, I couldn’t get it out of my head and it kept growing bigger and better”, says Josh Van Zuylen.

Josh primarily used Wacom’s Intuos Pro pen tablet as he describes it as the most efficient and fun way to model and create any computer generated content. The Wacom Intuos Pro aided Josh with a number of assets including concept modelling, UV, baking, texturing, engine implementation, all the way down to shader creation.

After the initial burst of inspiration, Josh set out by creating several visualisation sketches in 3D, a process called white boxing. In this first stage, Josh looked at the main layouts, large shapes and forms as well as primitive lighting.

Once he was happy with the white box, Josh moved into a stage called proxy modelling.This stage is where Josh fleshed out the scope and visual theme for the world. He then took a simple asset that would be represented by a cube in a white box and started to model shapes that formed silhouettes. This helps the assets to start looking like the end result without spending a large amount of development time, thus enabling them to be revised faster. This is a great way of working when you have no concept art and thrive to develop your original designs.

Once Josh created the proxy models and had a clear direction of where the project was headed, he moved into production. Designing high-resolution models and their realtime counterparts was accelerated and made possible with the use of the Wacom Intuos

Pro along with Photoshop, Quixel, Substance and Unreal Engine 4. These tools were critical as without some of the technology used, it would not have been able to run in real-time at 4K resolution.

The art-deco monstrous project demanded a total of six months solid work in production. Josh details the project as “huge in scale, especially as a solo personal assignment. It was an iterative process that included set dressing, developing several lighting scenarios, shader and weather systems, animation and cinematography. At one point, rebuilding the entire environment as the scene hierarchy was not working”.

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