Interactive Cityscape

This is kind of a proof of concept for an interactive city I'm creating for a client's website, which I'm designing as well. The city (really just a section) is a metaphor for five different product offerings, each building representing a different product line.

Roll over the image for a snowy effect.

I use Flash so much, I'm able to think in ActionScript. It took about two hours to render the building itself, but much of that work will pay off on the remainder of the project - a lot of those isometric shapes (the 3/4 view - think Zaxxon) can be reused and modified for the other buildings and city elements. But the snow came very quickly - it's programmatic, not animated, which means each flake's duration, fall speed, size, and horizontal movement is randomized. I programmed the snow in less than twenty minutes, which made the pleasure of the final effect very satisfying. I love it when a Flash project comes together (that sounds awkward - sorry, A Team).

The original approved sketch took some research, and lots of rough sketching to make all the elements fit in the longish rectangle area. I had to show all or most of the five main buildings, but if I expanded the view too much, I'd be forced to create buildings that weren't interactive, which would be confusing to the viewer. Here's the end result:

The sketch was done in my typical style, but with many simple, blocky iterations coming first. Then I did a moderately tight pencil sketch by hand, pulled it into Photoshop and added some simple tone using my Wacom Intuous tablet. I try to let it be rough at this stage - line, tone and layout is enough for a client to see for approval - I find that anything more finished isn't a good use of my time or the client's at this point.

I'm still not sure if the buildings should dim when they're "off" (as in the Flash piece above) - it gives a nice added effect, but that would mean the five buildings are all dark until a visitor rolls over one of them - and even then, only one building will be "on". Might not look too good, but we'll see. Perhaps just the snow (and whatever other animation effects the four remaining buildings will get) will be enough.

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