An Independent Video Game Artist/ Developer's Passions and on using Noteshelf

 Orlando Valota is a past winner of our contest courtesy of Wacom. Read more on his passions and how he uses Noteshelf for his work and passions.

1.) Tell us your background.

I am a 34 year old Englishman with Italian parents. I graduated from the University of Exeter with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and have been working for twelve years as a business improvement consultant. I spent five years with KPMG in the City of London, and I currently work for a technology firm called Capgemini. I am married and have a one year old son called Louis.

2.) What hobbies are you into and how did you get into it?

I have always been fascinated by comic book illustration and have therefore spent a lot of my spare time drawing. Although I have never pursued this skill as a career path, the hours have added up and I’m now pretty good at it. As life has become more digital, so has my drawing. Five years ago I only used pencil and paper, now I use computer programs to colour my illustrations and create 3D models. Digital art is fun, and I love doodling on Noteshelf when I’m out and about.

Lately I’ve been working on an independent video game called Scramdrive. It’s a top-down racer which we’re aiming to release next year. I am the artist, so my job is to create the 3D cars and tracks and the 2D characters. Like many independent developers, I work on the game in my spare time. The dream is for the game to be a success and make enough money to fund a sequel. 

3.) What are you passionate about? Name three.

Video Game Art, Comic Books, Cars / motorsport. 

4.) What’s a typical day for you?

I commute into central London which means I spend two hours on the train every day. Using this time productively is a powerful boost for both my career and videogame project. While others are reading the paper, I am making progress. On the journey, I prepare for work. This involves reviewing my notes, reading documents and responding to emails, all of which saves me time before I get to my desk. Being efficient at work buys me time to work on Scramdrive after hours. On the journey home I often use Noteshelf to make concept sketches for the game. This is an essential part of the development process, as ideas are explored and communicated before being created in 3D. 

5.) How did you discover Noteshelf?

I often work on multiple projects for my job, which means I go to a lot of meetings and take a lot of notes. Keeping track is a challenge. I was once hunting for my notes during a meeting, searching through a stack of notepads when I saw my colleague using Noteshelf. He flipped open his iPad and browsed through a neat virtual shelf of notepads. He selected where he had left off and started writing. I liked how simple and visual it was, and downloaded it during my lunch break. 

6.) What was your initial reaction to Noteshelf and what was its main appeal to you?

When meetings go on for too long, doodling is an excellent way of making yourself look awake. I noticed how fluid and accurate writing on Noteshelf is and I soon discovered that it is also excellent for drawing. It gives crisp results which are easy to share on email or social media. I often tweet sketches directly from Noteshelf as a way of marketing Scramdrive.

People find images more engaging than blocks of text, so I sometimes include a Noteshelf sketch in my work emails. This can transform a generic boring email into something people want to read and will more likely remember. The example below is a sketch I included in an invitation to a workshop.

7.) How long have you been using Noteshelf?
2 years.

8.) How do you integrate Noteshelf in your workflow or everyday life?

Noteshelf is useful because it stores all my notes and sketches on my iPad. It is very easy to scan through the pages, so I don’t need a particular system to be able to locate notes or sketches quickly. I’ve got about ten notepads on the go, some of which have over 100 pages. These range from notes taken in meetings, to concept sketches and ideas, to comic book illustrations. 

For my videogame project, Noteshelf tends to be the workflow starting place.I use it for sketching ideas for cars, characters and track designs. After honing the sketches into something I’m happy with, I use a modelling program called Blender on my laptop to create the 3D model for the game. I prop up my iPad next to the laptop screen, and use the Noteshelf concept sketch as a guide. 

9.) Is there a Noteshelf feature that you use often?

The most valuable feature of Noteshelf is the accuracy and fluidity of the pen strokes. I have purchased all of the major art apps available for the iPad, and have spent a lot of time playing with their functionality. They all have strengths and weaknesses, but for drawing I have always come back to Noteshelf. This is simply because it is easier to draw on Noteshelf than any other app.

Another feature I often use is more subtle. It is possible to draw a detailed image with Noteshelf and then colour it with other iPad apps. This is because when you copy / paste images drawn in Noteshelf they have a transparent, rather than a white, background. This means when I paste the image into another app, it is transparent so I can add colour in the layer underneath. This technique allows me to create very detailed and colourful images, which would not be possible on any single app currently available on the iPad. The example below is a picture book for my son Louis, which I drew on Noteshelf and coloured on Brushes. If burping is a sign of approval, then I think he likes it.

10.) Can you provide tips for users who are just new to Noteshelf?

If you want to make an impressive drawing on Noteshelf, start by outlining your drawing on the page in rough. Then use the zoom function to get closer to the image. Work up the image in more detail, rubbing out the guide lines and replacing them with confident lines. Next, use the highlighter pens to add colour. Finally, go back over the important details with the black pen to give the image a crisp look. It’s very important to experiment and find out what method works best for you.

Orlando Valota's latest endeavaour is Scramdrive, which is a high speed, top-down racing game set in outer space. The races feature a high number of cars with different performance levels, all racing at once. Nowhere else can you race a Mars Rover against a V8 Sports Car. You must beat your competitors with race craft, tactical pit stops and blasts from your ION booster. Try to avoid pile-ups or tumbling off the track into deep space. 

Each track weaves around a piece of space junk. Go wheel to wheel through the ribs of a burnt out rocket shell. Jostle for position in the shade of an ancient space station. As you progress you will access more exotic machinery, enabling you to climb towards the front of the grid. 

If you like fast fun, check out our website and make friends with the developer @orlando_scram on Twitter.