Historical maps and paintings of the UK capital helped envision Dunwall
Bethesda has released a new developer diary for Dishonored that discusses the art style of the game, in particular how historical representations of London influenced the developer’s thinking.
Dishonored co-creative director Harvey Smite said, “In Dishonored, you play a supernatural assassin in a steampunk city, a city called Dunwall. The game has what I would describe as a non-photo realistic art style, lead by Sebastian Metton and Victor Antonov.
“When we first started the project, [co-director] Raph [Colantonio] and I kept saying, ‘This is London, 1666. The last year of the plague and the year of the Great Fire. The City of London at that point is pivotal to the world and pivotal to history’.”
Visual design director Victor Antonov continued, “The early creative influences were historical, architectural pictures of London and maps of London. Start with a location – where is this taking place? All kinds of representations from different artists, painters, photographers and filmmakers.”
Continuing, Anotonov explained the use of the architecture in Dishonored, “We looked at specific rooftops, specific smokestacks and facade ornaments that were very specific to London and no other city.”
Co-creative director Raphael Colantonio explained Antonov’s work on Dishonored, saying, “The visual designer, Victor, works kind of like a historian. He proceeds with what-if scenarios. So, okay, what if instead there was this event happening in history.”
He continued, “When the first designs came back, it looks very real, even though it’s not. It’s kind of believable because our brain can process it, which looks like, ‘Wow, that’s a place that could exist.’”
Anotonov finished by explaining how industrial designers were important to sci-fi. He said, ”I drew and I painted as an industrial designer, so technically I was formed to reproduce things that don’t exist in a very real way. And my tools are mainly light architecture and composition, so science fiction cities are my specialty.
“Industrial designers are again, formed and trained to create things that don’t exist, and so might become appealing. Industrial design in itself is fiction. I specialized in advanced prototypes for non-existent cars – which are absolutely dream objects.
“Historically, people like Sid Mead – who designed Blade Runner – was an industrial designer and he had the attention to detail and craftsmanship to make up a world and make in very believable.”
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