No Man´s Sky – Procedural generated video game as a creative tool you didn´t expect.

For today a topic that many will perhaps find surprinsing. Particularly those who couldn´t care less about videogames or don´t even know this one exists.
This post is mostly for those people and not for anyone who already loves the game, or hates it with igual passion. It does not matter.
This post today is for the aspiring illustrator out there because strangely enough there is something particulary interesting about a Playstation game called No Man´s Sky which has been out there for a while and is now about to receive a giant content update.
If you like to play video games and you particularly love to paint or draw I would recommend you buy this.


No Man´s Sky is a game you don´t need to even play to have fun and learn with it. If this seems weird, let me tell you that one of the things you can do in this simulated universe with bilions of planets to explore is to take photographs virtually as you would do with any real camera pointing it to scenes , plants or animals you want to photograph and so you can do the same.
Why is this important for illustration?


Well either if you´re a beginner or a professional illustrator, you´ll find soon enough that actually playing with the NMS virtual camera becomes extremely useful to practice visual shots and visual compositions. You can even work around the “natural light” of each sun to plan your images. The way the game simulates real vast worlds is also extremely useful for those who are still learning about perspective in illustration to get a good glimpse of how the different layers of atmosphere, perspective or scale are important factors for a person to paint a landscape.


You can learn more about it and about what I mean if you read the “About me” section on my new No Man´s Sky site, so go take a look.

I´ve taken so much “virtual photos” on so many worlds that I arrived at the need to create a place to archive them. Because No Man´s Sky has such a range of colors many of those images became extremely useful to plan the color compositions on my own original illustrations and so having those images around is always useful to me.
Also there are so many people out there sharing images of this “Virtual Galaxy” that I thought there was no reason why I shouldn´t share mine also.


No Man´s Sky is essentially a walking simulator. You can hike around the alien planets with the same freedom of movement as we do on real life. For me as a hiker in real life finding a game like NMS was a dream come true as it´s also very relaxing.
No Man´s Sky is perfect for those who are totally fed up with war games, or violent videogame stuff.


There´s action in NMS but only if you want to play that angle. You can just walk around the worlds, admiring the vistas, be a scientist discovering new species or a trader minning materials and selling them in space stations. There´s also a story if you want to follow and regular missions, but that is only if you want to play it as a regular game. If you just want to use NMS to relax and admire the vistas you can do just that too and that´s one of the most appealing things on this virtual universe where you can do anything you want and while in between you can also learn a thing or two about visual composition if you play around with the NMS photo camera. 😉

You can buy it for PS4 HERE and for XBOX HERE.


I apologise for the lack of updates on this blog but when I´m silent that means I´ve been busy and so as most stuff I do needs to be kept confidential for some time for contractual reasons this means I tend to only have old work to post here for a while. 😉


Drawing Tutorial – Part One – “Little house on the grid”


“Little house on the grid”

Ok, perspective…don´t cringe now.
It goes like this. No matter where you look at in nature or all around you you can always pull some imaginary straight lines from inside a central point of a feature you´re looking at.
And the only way to pull dozens of imaginary lines in your direction that don´t overlap each other is to give them diferent angles.

The degree of each angle does not matter now but it´s useful that you make sure you imagine the lines on your left to have the same inclination as the ones you pull on the right, just so that you can have a nice grid and not make a mess right at the foundation of what you´re going to use to grow a scenery out of it.
As you have to make sure these lines do not overlap naturaly as you spread them from a single point to the side they create that sense of 3D space because they endup occupying all the ground area of your pic.

So far so good, right ? You´ve created a little house on the horizon, you´ve pulled those imaginary lines on the ground and all the 3D effect is looking good.
But what happens if you want to add another house on the side ? Do you use the same lines you pulled from the central little house ?
And why did you pull those lines in the first place ?!
Well, more on this ahead, but for now you just place another house on the side right on top of the horizon and pull more lines from it.

You start by pulling a straight line right from underneath as you did on the original house, and then keep pulling lines to its sides.
This creates another grid that overlaps the original one. Don´t worry, this is what you want, only you don´t just know it yet.
Notice those original horizontal lines parallel to the horizon wich make the original green grid ? The closer to you, the bigger the spaces between them and as you have those you don´t need to create more to represent the floor.

Those central points on each feature from where you are pulling those imaginary lines, are what´s usualy called “vanishing points” and they´re one of the most important things you need to focus on when you´re creating a landscape, perhaps to illustrate a childrenbook or rendering a simple view.
A complex scenery can end up having dozens of individual vanishing points as each feature you want to put on the scenery needs those points (and their guide-lines) to be correctely placed on a 3D ground while relating well to the other scenery elements you have.
Are you cringing now ? It´s not that dificult. 😉

Look at my little house there. This is the most simple way to have a landscape. Ok, it´s not that impressive, but even with only the house and the guide lines, you already have a 3D space that people will imediatly recognize.

And all this without even adding anything else to the scenery. Anyone looks at this and imagines a house, the ground area and sky.

Then again, raise the horizon level and you get plenty more of ground area to fill in later.

The angle of the pulled imaginary lines from the vanishing point also determines the angle in wich the viewer is seeing your scenery.
If i had placed those pulled lines in a more tigh angle to the central one right from underneath the house the floor would look much more inclined that it is now.

If you don´t get what i´m saying, try to pull some lines with diferent inclination to see the illusion effect you get.

In this case i´ve spread those lines in a more wide angle across the canvas and so my ground area became less inclinated than the one from the other example above independently of the fact that this is the version with the horizon placed up.

The angle in wich you pull the imaginary lines from each vanishing point determines the illusion of looking down in a balanced way or creates the effect of a really high straightforward drop.

Experiment with pulling those lines from an object and try to create all sorts of grids yourselves to get a more realistic idea of what i´m trying to explain here. 😉

And of course this is the version with lots of sky area to fill in.
How do you fill in that area in a realistic way ?
Oh, yes, once again…perspective and vanishing points and some new imaginary grids to place things in. Mostly clouds.

More on this later, at the right time.


Back – “Intro

Next – “Going 3D