Part 1: Farzad Varahramyan, Sr. Production Designer

FarzadYeah, yeah, it plays great, but how does it LOOK? Keepers of the Oddworld vision, the Production Designers are responsible for the look and design of every creature, vehicle, venue, nut, bolt, and screw of the ever-expanding Oddworld universe. If it looks cool, thank a Production Designer (if it looks goofy, blame a Game Designer, but that’s another subject). Pull up a chair and listen in while Farzad Varahramyan and his talented crew reveal the secrets of Oddworld’s Crown Jewels — the Production Design Department.

· Odd Squad

Sr. Production Designer, Farzad Varahramyan

The Oddworld Production Design Department is a four-man team responsible for visualizing the Oddworld Universe. They’re the artistic horsepower behind every creature, every building, every vehicle, and every vista, every nut, bolt, and screw of Oddworld. Led by Production Designer Farzad Varahramyan, they understand that what they design today will be part of the Oddworld universe…FOREVER! Farzad answers a young aspiring designer’s question:

What does a Production Designer do besides creating characters?

Farzad Varahramyan: A Production Designer at Oddworld is expected to do many things. We design more than characters. The designers here design the fashions and artifacts the characters wear, environments in which these characters live in such as the Necrum forest or the Industrial Rupture Farms. We also have to design each individual object that goes in these environments. Everything from trees and rocks to furniture, lights, and buttons on a keyboard terminal that Sligs can use. How do these characters get around OW? They need transportation, whether it be animals they ride on, or trains and Slig pants that consume fossil fuels. We are essentially creating an entire OW universe from scratch!

As a Production Designer you have to also have a few skills. You need to be very good at drawing, knowing good perspective, understanding lighting, painting both with paints and Photoshop, drawing accurate blueprints for each character, environment and object you create, and providing color and texture reference for every creature or object. Sculpting is also a good skill to have since it helps you visualize in true three dimensions the characters you design.

Now that you have these skills, you need to be able to take direction and effectively be able to create what the director is dreaming of and asking for. This means you have to leave your ego at home and come to work prepared to design and create the best designs that you can, to the satisfaction of not just yourself but especially the director.

Once you have the design approved, you need other skills besides being able to draw and paint. You need to be good at communication with others, in order to get the design built for the game. You have to be able to talk and listen, and work cooperatively with many people in order to create something like a video game. A lot of people work on each part of the game, and you need to be able to communicate effectively with all of them.

I hope you are starting to get an idea of what we look for in OW Production Designers. I have a feeling you are on your way, just keep working hard at school and your art. Take classes in perspective, figure drawing, lighting, and sculpting in clay. The more you study in school and learn about the world you live in, the richer and better your designs will be.

Farzad and Lorne Lanning discuss new character designs

farzad uses