Making Tracks: Ideas and Concept Art

Ideas

For any kind of artwork, the first thing you need is an idea. If you have no idea what you want, your end result, if you manage to finish at all, will most likely be very confusing. On the other hand, if you have a good idea, many more ideas for features of your track will easily flow into your head.

Luckily, for SuperTuxKart, it should be fairly easy to come up with an idea if you do not already have one. You should have read the Style page before starting this tutorial. It lists a variety of fictional regions as well as specific locations. It also list characters, corporations, and other information which make a track come together.

Note that your idea must make sense. Playing SuperTuxKart should be an epic journey in its fictional universe. Avoid using too many city/industry elements; instead explore lots of different, exotic and even unexpected locations in the STK universe. Prefer known and coherent universes/worlds (fictional or not) over a bunch of colorful nonsense (i.e. use consistent themes referring to real-world places, stories, past civilizations, etc.) Do lots of research—read about places, look at pictures, etc. Use your imagination to come up with something original yet coherent.

Follow either one of the sections below, depending on which applies to you:

If you already have an idea

Your idea is probably a specific location, like a tropical island, a mine, or a city on another planet. All you have to do is to make your idea fit into the SuperTuxKart universe. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What sort of place is it? (Weather, geographical features, etc.)
  • What is the mood there? (Calm, busy, relaxed, etc.)
  • Which characters live there, if any? (This can be linked with the mood, e.g. Fort Magma and Nolok)

With this information, you should be able to choose a region from the Getting To Know the Style page. You should hopefully be able to find a specific location that also fits, but if you cannot, do not worry. You may need to invent your own. Just make sure it fits into the STK universe.

If you do not have an idea

If you are looking for a purely original idea, close your eyes, let your mind wander, and follow the "If you already have an idea" section above when you get one. However, this can be very difficult, so don't waste too much time if you can't come up with an idea.

An easier way is to simply start at the Getting To Know the Style page, and then follow these steps:

  1. Choose a region that inspires you the most.
  2. Choose or create your own specific location.
  3. (Optional) Pick characters that fit with your idea.

About Visualizing

Either of these methods should help you develop an idea which you start visualizing in your head. However, your idea must be fairly inspiring for this to happen. If you feel apathetic about your idea, pick another one. Boring ideas turn into boring tracks. (Of course, this only applies to ideas that don't interest you. If the same idea inspires someone else, their track will likely turn out more exciting.) If you've visualized parts of your track, concept art will be much easier.


Naming

You can always change the name of your track, but it's important to have a good one if you want your track to be included in main. The STK team can help you choose a name if you need. Here are some guidelines:

  • Tracks should not be named after characters—this lacks imagination. (e.g. no "Tux's Inn".)
  • Names should give a slight hint of the mood of the track. For example, Ravenbridge Mansion just sounds spooky, and it fits with a spooky track.
  • Names should also describe the location. Gran Paradiso Island, for example, is obviously on an island.
  • Names should not tell you everything about the track. They should be vaguely mysterious, like Zen Garden.

Concept Art

Concept art is an important step in creating a track. It helps you design your track prior to modeling it, and makes modeling much easier, since you already know what you want. It also provides insight for other people to see your ideas and provides opportunities for feedback before you spend the time needed to model a track.

The first thing you need to do is to do a web search on a real location that is similar to your chosen fictional location. Do some reading and find out what it's like there. Do an image search and find pictures of a similar location. All this helps provide inspiration.

Concept art is not formal, and you shouldn't spend more than a few hours on it. It can be drawn with a digital painting application like Krita, or just on paper. The point is to get ideas for your track. Simply choose one aspect of your idea and draw or arrange photos until you've created a picture that can be used for how your track will look.

If you intend to combine digital images for your concept art, be sure that you have a license to use them. A number of excellent sources of photos can be found at the Reusable Artwork Resources page.

Our lead artist, Jean-Manuel Clémençon, created a tutorial video on concept art a while back as part of the Let's Make a Track Together initiative. Unfortunately, the project was never completed, but the tutorial is still useful and can be found here.

Designing the Track Layout

Now it's time to put all your ideas and concept art to work! This is a somewhat difficult step, and you should spend plenty of time on it. Hopefully, your concept art showed the track in parts of it. You must now take ideas from each piece of concept art and put them together (metaphorically, of course) to create a map of the track. The map need not be anything more than a line on a piece of paper, but have have an eraser ready, since you'll probably need it quite a bit. As you draw, be sure to follow the guidelines listed at Making Tracks: Notes#Gameplay to make sure your track turns out fun to play.

Conclusion

You're now mostly done with the planning stage of your track. In the following modules, you'll turn your ideas into a track that can be driven in SuperTuxKart.