Environment Artist: Ronan Mahon

Ronan Mahon is an environment artist that has work on triple-A titles such as Batman: ‘Arkham Knight’ and the rest of the ‘Arkham’ series. A common technique that Ronan uses is to add as much detail to the scenery as possible. Even if this scenery will not be seen it will add to the immersion and convince the player that they are actually in the room. By this, I mean that what a person would typically see in a certain room, he would add to that room.

In the 3D modelling Ronan will add clutter to the environment so that it does not look plain. This clutter will also offer easter eggs to the player. For example, references to the comics such as newspapers giving information on the history of the bat and posters that explain the origin of batgirl. These examples can be seen in the ‘Killing Joke’ work. Another place where this can be seen in in the Watchtower environment as Ronan adds an interactable object which is a bust with a hidden button under the head. This is a reference to the original Batman TV show. Objects like this show the amount of effort that Ronan has put into his work

When it comes to textures Ronan takes into consideration the light that can be seen. For example on a piece of work called ‘The Watchtower,moon light’ the clock also acts as a window that lets in light. Since the game is set at night he uses bluemoonlightshining through casting shadows from the clock and distorting the original shape, therefore adding light to the room. Ronan tends to create textures for a dark environment using a darker colour pallet which adds to the atmosphere of the specific game. Then to highlight certain areas that appeals to the players he will use a a lighter colour pallet which immediately grabs the players focus and attracts them over to it.

To make this environment appear as realistic as possible Ronan also thought about how the scenery would work. What I mean by this is that the clock window is not just a window. The gears which operate the clock can be seen attached to the window and leading away to a more complex machine. Giving the sense of realism as it is accurate to how these machines work in the real world. Adding more immersion to the game.

The type of objects that have been created for this environment also give an idea to the player of when the time set is. The wooden textures and desk lamps indicate that the environment is set in modern times, however the gears of the clock and old fashioned furniture would also show that this is a earlier time set such as the 1990’s.

There is also an alternate design to the environment which was included within the game. The environment changes when the bust, that I previously mentioned, is activated. The furniture and bookshelves of the room disappear leaving a big empty space which a projected screen fills. As well as this a futuristic computer rises from the center of the room. This has been done to the environment to fill the needs of the story. Even though the environment has completely changed Ronan still made it as realistic as possible by having shutters that covered the clock windows which had projectors attached to them, displaying the large computer screen.

As for lighting in this alternate environment it completely changes as it suddenly becomes very modern and close to futuristic using lots of blue lights emitting from the projectors which fill the majority of the room. Most of the previous lighting sources no longer function leaving darkness around the edges of the environment. I feel like this is purposely done so that the player is paying attention to what he is meant to be, which is the projectors. However it can also be to hide easter eggs for players to later find.

All image credit goes to the artist: Ronan Mahon

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