Here are some new building concepts for my surrealistic city editor. This is pencil on paper with digital clean-up. There was a grey mid-tone in the scanned paper, I’m using it to my advantage to create clear silhouettes; I’ve cut out the individual buildings using the lasso tool in Photoshop.
After cutting out the buildings, I applied the “Levels” filter to emphasise the darkest darks, and to pull out the lightest light. Levels is great for post-processing scanned drawings. It allows you to corp the ends of the image histogram. The central point on the histogram can also be moved to increase contrast.
Here’s my concept of a surrealist modern city. The “surrealism” is in the way that buildings stack on top of each other, the way architecture plunges into the ocean area. It is also in the tipsy and melted shape of things.
SimCity models an industrial economy so it organises the buildings into Transport, Housing, Education, Industry, Power, Water, Commercial, Entertainment and Safety. That’s good for a realistic city. Surrealism models the subconsciousness, so I plan to organize the buildings for my city into Fancies, Fears, and Desires. So for example a hospital will be in Fears and a nightclub in Desires.
Recently I watched Star Trek: Picard and really like the surrealistic dreams in it. Not cities in particular, but the psychological Freudian idea of fixations in our psycho-somatic development. In other words, everyone is stuck somewhere in their past, and we’re all stuck in different ways. Picard was fixated on something particularly traumatic in his childhood. One of the other characters, I think it was a Vulcan, told him ‘You humans are like pinned butterflies, you can flap your wings but can never move on’. I really love that.
I want to amp up the surrealism even more. The task is unleashing my subconsciousness, this art movement is all about freedom in my opinion; It’s helping you release whatever it is that you have inside you.
For my honours project at Abertay University, I will design a web-app for making city maps. The art part of this project will be the UI and UX, the creation of icons for various building types. I plan to use React or Angular for prototyping the editor. Alternatively, I might just prototype it in Figma, instead of fully implementing it in a web framework.
Today I designed some wireframes. They show different possible layouts for the building palette and toolbars. I think they all have very traditional “editor” look. Next, I will experiment with more funky layouts, to try to escape that look. I’m taking inspirations from games in the Sim City franchise, as well as various tile-based map editors. The app is intended to be a casual toy which allows you to design a city.