Saturday, October 30, 2010

Old Drawing Makeovers

I'm still dedicating some of my spare time to designing imaginary themed experiences for my own amusement. For the last project and the current one, I've been updating old ideas from my past and having a good time doing it. Now that I feel fairly comfortable with Sketchup, I'm finding it easier to get across some of the original ideas in a more detailed and 3-dimensional way. For your amusement (or probably just mine), I've included some comparisons of the old and new stuff below.

This first one was an old design for a waterpark based on Atlantis. I'm currently working on this one but thought it was far enough along to show a screenshot. I really like the idea of the waterslides moving in and out of the mountain, waterfalls, aqueducts and little Greek buildings. It's looking a little more Splash Mountain than I planned but it isn't done yet.

The next drawings are from an old project that has been recycled twice. The first incarnation was a lobby feature for a "Haunted Hotel". That feature (and drawings) got reused in a restaurant design called "Raven's Mansion". And finally, they got the Sketchup redo for my practice design called "Monster Mansion" a few weeks back.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Design for Fun

I've decided to abandon my self-imposed aggressive schedule that I was calling Design-a-Week. I want to continue working on these little projects as skill development / brain exercise / hobby but the once a week thing wasn't really necessary and rarely worked out anyway. I feel like I can keep doing this without a deadline. Now, it's just Design-for-Fun or something like that.

My next one is certainly going to take more than a week. I want to do an entire waterpark. Way back in early 1990-something, I did some sketches of a waterpark based on an Atlantis theme. Not revolutionary, I know but the way I saw it was pretty cool, I thought. The images in my mind were very multi-leveled and complex with landscaping, attractions, pathways and buildings merging and twisting around each other. I also wanted to do this not as an ancient lost civilization but more like what it would look like if it were clean and new. As you can see from the drawing on the right, I did not have the skill to draw what I was thinking. Now that I'm more comfortable with Sketchup, I'm going to try again and see how close I can get to what I'm envisioning. I want to take my time and get it right.

This design is not going to be about the specific attractions as much as it is about the master planning. I'm going to use standard slides and even steal some attractions from existing waterparks. I doubt I'll bother with any interiors or back areas at all but the slides and pools will be complete. The landscaping and rockwork will be my big lesson to learn this time.

I've already started below. This shot shows 3 slides at different points in progress based off a Google Maps image of my first employer, Splashtown USA in TX. I'm pretty excited by the idea. Now, let's see if I can finish it without a deadline before a shiny object distracts me.

See the projects completed so far:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Design a Week #7 - Monster Mansion

Here is my latest "theme park design for my own amusement" project. This one started off as a simple update to an old design and kind of snowballed into something more ambitious than a single week and my computer's hardware would easily allow.


This attraction is a collection of 9 self-paced and interactive haunted attractions in a single building. They include a live special effects show, interactive games, haunted walk-throughs, a maze, a small ride and animatronics shows. The entire attraction is tied together with an overall mystery that has clues in each room. Guests are invited to solve the mystery in the finale.

"Welcome to the home of Victor Raven, Master of the Monster Movie. You may remember some of his classics like Attack of the 50 foot Librarian, Vegetarian Vampires from Venus, Curse of the Mummy’s Mommy and The Monster that Ate Des Moines. Mister Raven was more than just a monster creator... he was also a collector. Here in his mansion, you will encounter many of the creatures and magical artifacts that inspired his films. Your journey begins in the library where you will learn the history of Victor Raven and learn of his recent mysterious disappearance. Next, you will move into the hub of the house, the gallery. The gallery is hosted by the magical Jin, a giant floating purple head. He'll tell you about the 7 rooms, or adventures, you can experience at your own pace. And he tells it in the most poetic way. Enjoy the rooms but keep an eye out. There are clues to solve the mystery of Raven's disappearance in each. Finally, when your time with us is done, you'll exit through the study. On the way out, stop at a desk and make a guess about what happened to Raven. There's a reward. Now, let's begin our tour of Monster Mansion. Be afraid."

Monster Mansion

Pictures and Descriptions of each section:

Monster Mansion: Library
LIBRARY: Monster Mansion begins with a short, live show filled with special effects. The butler tells the history of Victor Raven's movie career and the collection of monsters within the mansion. He also tells guests that Victor disappeared in the mansion and clues to what happened can be found throughout the house. As he talks, strange events occur like the piano playing itself, books rearranging themselves and images forming in the flames of the fireplace. The show ends with a giant monster smashing the windowed dome above the room and the painting of Raven stretching out at the guests. The lights flash out with a lightning strike and when they turn back on, everything is restored to normal.

Monster Mansion: Gallery
GALLERY: The Gallery is the hub of Monster Mansion where guests choose their next adventures. It is a large rotunda with framed posters from Raven's movies. Occasionally, the images in the posters will change or move. Between the posters, doors lead to 7 small attractions, restrooms and the final exit. Guests can move around this room and try the various attractions at their own pace and in any order. In the center of the room, the large floating head of a genie named Jin recites short, comedic poems describing each attraction.

Monster Mansion: Mirror Room
MIRROR ROOM: Filled with strange and magical mirrors, this room doesn't always reflect what you expect. Some of the mirrors are normal or distorted like a funhouse. Other mirrors are video screens that appear to reflect strange angles (like the back of the observer or a view from above) or have CGI enhancements like ghost images, blurring or tracing. On one wall, some mirrors are actually windows into a copy of the room, which makes it appear as though the observers aren't reflected at all.

Monster Mansion: Red Banshee Catacombs
CATACOMBS of the RED BANSHEE: This is an exploration maze game where players try to find the 5 skeleton rooms while avoiding the red banshees. Each group is given a small handheld guide device that draws a map of the maze walls as they discover them. An encounter with a red banshee temporarily erases part of that map while entering one of the 2 sanctuary rooms restores it. The teams with the best times of the day are displayed on the poster in the gallery closest to this attraction's door.

Monster Mansion: Greenhouse
GREENHOUSE: The greenhouse is located "outside" in the mansion's gardens where it is dark and stormy all the time. Inside the greenhouse, rains pounds the glass as 5 giant man-eating plants perform for visitors. The plants tell jokes and sing harmonies but between acts, they speak to and interact with guests live.

Monster Mansion: Swamp Monster
SWAMP MONSTER: This area also appears to be outdoors at night. Guests walk on old wooden walkways over green, swampy water. This tour is a self-paced walk-through haunted attraction with animatronic monsters. Some of the encounters include mysterious bubbles, jumping alligators, giant spiders, swamp creatures (from the Black Lagoon) and zombies.

Monster Mansion: Monster Hunter
MONSTER HUNTER: Guests grab a shotgun and help control the monster population in this classic shooting gallery. This scene has the most cartoon-like style of the entire mansion. This shooting gallery includes plenty of mechanical and water effects but it also has targets that are video projected, including the entire back wall of the room.

Monster Mansion: Music Room
MUSIC ROOM: In this room, floating instruments play music, following a guest conductor's every move. The instruments appear to be played by CGI-driven "Pepper's Ghost" musicians that are reflected from an opening in the ceiling. The platform that the guest conductor stands on senses their presence and cameras interpret their upper body movements. The ghosts change songs and speeds based on these movements.

Monster Mansion: The Vortex
THE VORTEX: In this part of the mansion, gravity is twisted. The queue for this attraction looks like various rooms of the mansion that have been turned sideways or upside-down. Furniture sticks to walls or hangs from the ceiling. In the last room of the queue, guests cross a bridge through a rolling room where the floor passes over their heads about once a minute. The actual attraction is a large round room where guests stand against the wall. The room spins causing guests stick to the walls as the floor drops out from under them. As the spinning stops, they slide down to meet the floor. The ride can be bypassed if guests just want to experience the queue rooms.

Monster Mansion: Study
STUDY: Before they exit Monster Mansion, visitors pass through the study. There, they are invited to stop by one of the desks and guess the answer to the overall mystery of Monster Mansion. Did they figure out the clues to what happened to Victor Raven?