For the basic shape of this building I drew a large number of simple 2D forms. I made variations and I corrected the forms until I was happy with one form.
What did I do next? I looked for different ways to transform this simple 2D form into a full 3D object. I also added colours and I drew the lines for the windows. One important thing I noticed is that adding colours in the earliest stages of design is crucial for a good end result.
Colours have a strong influence on the composition and the way the different shapes interact with each other. A finished design that looks good in black lines on a white background won’t necessarily look good when you add contrasting colours in a later stage of the design process. I have made this mistake previously and you can lose a lot of time and quality this way.
Don’t forget to set the background colour also to a colour that resembles you final background colour. The way the object interacts with the background colour is as important as the other colour interactions within the building itself. Here I chose a dark grey background because I knew I would make some sort of night scene.
Another mistake I made with this design: I didn’t decide what materials the different colours were going to become. As you can see below I chose a light grey colour for the windows, but I didn’t think about how I would translate this colour to a believable material in the final texturing. So I eventually ended up making these windows much more lighter and contrasting. The end result not too bad, but it is not really the design I was looking for in the first place. The lesson I learned: decide from the beginning what material each colour will become.
Next I made some quick sketches so I would have a rough idea on how I would make the environment in Mudbox. I wanted to create a strong foreground-background relationship. I wanted the rocks on the foreground to be pretty black so they would make the sense of depth stronger and so they would also match the building’s darkness and contrast.
I also applied a technique I have never used before. I drew some thick “edges” around the most important forms and I made them black. In the image underneath I gave these edges a red colour so you can see what I mean. It makes the forms more distinctive and more easy to separate from one another.