Mike Rayahwk LEGO Universe
Nexus Tower
"Nexus Tower" - 2011
3D Modeling: Keith Richards
larger versions available at universe.lego.com

Once LEGO Universe launched in October 2010, the major focus of my job became creating key marketing visuals for each major update. We had these down to a science; I'd do quick layouts with the necessary action and lighting notes, and pass it off to the 3D artist (either Wooyang Kim or Keith Richards) to model and render individual elements while I painted up the backgrounds and environments. Once the renders were ready, I'd composite everything and apply lighting and effects. Brian Miller provided direction throughout and handled any final graphic design treatments. Once we had our process in place we could turn one of these around in the space of a week.

While these aren't shown in order, the key visuals over the course of 2011 followed a color script from the dark reds and purples of the evil Maelstrom to the bright blue of good Imagination as the heroes got closer to completing construction of Nexus Tower. The above image for our big 1.7 release showed the completion of the Tower and marked the transition to brighter colors for the remainder of the game's run.

Tower Construction sketches
Tower Construction
"Tower Construction" - 2011
3D Modeling support: Wooyang Kim

larger versions available at universe.lego.com

On the left are some examples of the notes I'd send to the modelers about content, lighting, and layout as we locked down the plan for the image.

Frostburgh Ninjago renders
Frostburgh Ninjago
"Ninjago in Frostburgh " - 2011
3D Modeling: Keith Richards

Here's what a typical set of renders looks like before and after the paintover. Keith hands me crisp, full-value-range elements on separate layers to give me maximum flexibility with filters and effects.

Nimbus System
"Nimbus System" - 2009
LEGO Universe Map
"LEGO Universe Map" - 2011
3D Modeling support: Keith Richards
Infographics: Brian Miller

The map evolved quite a bit over the years; my 2009 painting was the one that was packed in with the game DVD, but with the addition of a bunch of worlds in-game, and as part of our overall palette shift in 2011 after the Nexus Tower release, we updated to the brighter version on the right.

The darker map was the original appearance of this version of the evil Maelstrom vortex; you would later see it shamelessly copied and pasted into the backgrounds of dozens of other images across LEGO Universe marketing materials, including the map at right.

Dragonmaw Racetrack
"Dragonmaw Racetrack" - 2011
3D Modeling: Keith Richards
larger versions available at universe.lego.com
Club Station Alpha
"Club Station Alpha" - 2011
larger versions available at universe.lego.com
Free to Play
"Free to Play" - 2011
3D Modeling: Keith Richards
Crux Prime
"Crux Prime" - 2010
3D Modeling support: Wooyang Kim
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