The art and design of Uncharted 2

When I joined the SketchUp team a few months back, I did what most people do when they want to learn about something new: I plugged “SketchUp” into my favorite search engine. It wasn’t long before I found my way to this wonderful interview of concept artist Robh Ruppel done by our friends at

Robh was the Art Director on the massive PS3 hit Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. In this interview, he discusses how he used SketchUp to help conceptualize and design the video game’s look and feel. For those of you who aren’t gamers, Uncharted 2 was big—really big. Think Avatar.

Concept Art: From SketchUp models to tonal drawings to production

Driven by cutting edge graphics, dimensional characters and a gripping story, Uncharted 2 was a runaway critical and commercial success. To date, the game has sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide. It’s the fastest selling first-party title for PlayStation and was named by Metacritic as the most critically acclaimed game of 2009. Uncharted 2 won over 100 awards, including Game of the Year accolades from publications like IGN, Eurogamer, Game Informer, Joystiq, Kotaku, AIAS, Game Developers Choice Awards, and the Spike Video Game Awards.

Robh uses SketchUp to determine the size and major shapes of the game’s environments.

Needless to say, Uncharted 2 was an instant classic; having spent more Saturday nights playing this game than I care to admit, it was pretty exciting to read about how Robh used SketchUp to work out the game’s aesthetic, and so I thought I’d reached out to Robh to see if he’d be willing to talk to us on camera about how he used SketchUp on Uncharted 2. He agreed, and with the help of the good folks over at Naughty Dog Studios, we put together this case study:

One of the hardest parts about this project was distilling Robh’s many pearls of wisdom about concept art, designing in 3D and SketchUp into a YouTube video, so we’ll follow up with another post in the coming days that has a transcription of our entire interview.

One more thing: If you found this video compelling, check out the trailer for the upcoming Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. I’ve already pre-pre-ordered my copy.

Map Prints

The United State of Everywhere (Erin Eby)

Erin Eby writes, “Like you, I love maps but found that many of them look old and outdated. I’m an Art Director by trade, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and create my own.” She’s got a few up on her Etsy store (where she’s selling them as prints), including The United State of Everywhere (above), a poster of all the countries in the world in alphabetical order, and this minimalist world map.

Google Rolls Out Boost Nationwide

Google Boost is now available nationwide. Apparently though it may not be available for all businesses based on the categories of the business. In other words if you are a locksmith, you might not see the option.

Boost is Google’s simplified Adwords tool for Local that can be initiated starting at $50/mo. The product rolled out to 3 cities in late October and 11 additional cities were added in mid November. The product was first seen in testing in October of 2009 and was known at the time as Local Listing Ads. Thus, from initial test to full rollout it has been 16 months.

This interview with Chikai Ohazama, the Director of Product Management for Maps, provides some insight into Google’s thinking on the product.

I am curious of those in markets that have previously had access to Boost, what your experience has been? Have the returns been as good as Adwords? Has the product opened up additional opportunities for you? I am also curious what industries are not being given the option to purchase a Boost ad in their Places Dashboard.

Reader Dan Freeburg sent this screen shot from a smaller market: